Protest at Bank Of America HQ Supports Worker Takeover Of Factory In Chicago

Some 20 people took part in a protest yesterday, Dec. 8, outside Bank Of America's national office in uptown Charlotte, NC. They were supporting the Republic Windows & Doors workers currently staging a sit-in at their factory in Chicago. See news reports & videos below. We'll also post a report from one of the participants soon.

News Reports & Videos:

News 14

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Protesters gather at Bank of America
Updated 12/08/2008 05:15 PM
By: Johnell Johnson
Video at

Workers feel that Bank of America should be able to continue the line of credit due to the $25 billion bailout they recently received from the federal government.

CHARLOTTE -- Union workers who feel Bank of America has turned its back on them have gathered outside the company's offices at Trade Street and Tryon Street in uptown Charlotte to protest.

Members of the United Electrical Workers Union in Chicago protested their layoffs last week, when they were informed that the Republic Windows and Doors plant would be closing three days before operations were set to shut down because they would no longer be getting a line of credit from Bank of America.

BOA Protesters
Protesters gathered outside Bank of America after the bank decided to stop extending a line of credit to a Chicago company.

Workers feel that Bank of America should be able to continue the line of credit due to the $25 billion bailout they recently received from the federal government. Protestors have also complained about violations of the WARN Act, which requires that businesses with more than 100 employees give 60-days' notice of mass layoffs.

Officials with the protest plan on attempting to speak with Bank of America officials at some point Monday. Calls to Bank of America were not immediately returned to News 14 Carolina.

Union Comment:

"We're in a crisis right now; an economic crisis," said Salia Warren, a field organizer for the United Electrical Workers Union. "Bank of America received $25 billion. It is just not possible that they can't continue to extend a line of credit which is only $5 million, a very small portion of what they received from the government, to these workers.

"We have 300-plus workers in Chicago, Illinois who are actually going to be out of work only for the mere fact that Bank of America is choosing not to extend a line of credit to them. And the government gave them the money, and since Bank of America was bailed out, in turn they should be bailing out the workers. This is sending a very bad precedent across America to companies.

"It's not possible that banks are receiving this money and they are actually telling their consumers, 'We can't give you any of the money we received.' What is going to happen next? Is it going to be another factory that has 500 people that's going to be out of work? It has to stop here. We can not continue to allow this to go on."

Protesters: BofA should restore company's funding

06:26 PM EST on Monday, December 8, 2008

By BETH SHAYNE / NewsChannel 36
E-mail Beth:

Video at

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A small group of protesters picketed outside Bank of America headquarters in Charlotte Monday in solidarity with employees of a factory in Chicago.

Employees of Republic Windows and Doors were given three days notice of a layoff at their factory. Their owners said Bank of America had cut off their loan, and the company could no longer do business.

Those employees in Chicago have staged a sit-in since Friday. They are demanding the 60-day notice required by law in Chicago, and vacation back pay. Republic says that's money they can't pay and blames the Bank of America cut-off.

In Charlotte Monday, members of N.C. Public Service Employees Union held signs that read, "Bank of America, You Got Bailed Out. We Got Sold Out." They chanted, "Bail out the workers, not the banks!"

Organizer Salia Warren said, "The workers in Chicago, Illinois, are being told that they no longer have jobs because this line of credit is not being extended to them. If the banks were bailed out, now in turn they should be bailing out the workers."

She was referring to the money that Bank of America was asked to accept as part of the federal bailout. Warren also said demonstrators will be staged at Bank of America locations throughout the country in the coming days.

Those protesters got major support in Chicago Monday afternoon, where Gov. Rod Blagojevich ordered all state agencies to stop doing business with Bank of America to pressure the bank into helping protesting workers at a shuttered Chicago plant.

Bank of America has said that the company cannot control their creditors. The bank released this statement Monday afternoon:

"We agree with the statements of public officials that Republic Windows and Doors should do all it can to honor its obligations to its employees and minimize the impact of failure on those employees.

We are reaching out to the management and ownership of the company to see what they can do to help resolve this issue.

As a creditor of the company, we continue to honor all of our agreements with the company and have provided the maximum amount of funding we can under the terms of our agreement.

By any objective measure, Republic Windows and Doors is unable to operate profitably given the challenges of the current economic climate and its industry. Public statements by management of the company have made this clear.

When a company faces such a dire situation, its lender is not empowered to direct the company's management how to manage its affairs and what obligations should be paid. Such decisions belong to the management and owners of the company.

Bank of America has worked with the company and shared our concerns about the company's situation and its operations for the past several months. It is unfortunate that the company has been unable to reverse its declining circumstances."

Ill. Gov. Refuses To Do Business With Charlotte-Based Bank

Monday, December 8, 2008 – updated: 6:31 pm EST December 8, 2008
Video at

CHICAGO -- Gov. Rod Blagojevich ordered all state agencies Monday to stop doing business with Bank of America to try to pressure the bank into helping laid-off workers staging a sit-in at their shuttered factory.

The governor wants the North Carolina-based bank to use some of its federal bailout money to resolve the protest by about 200 workers at Republic Windows and Doors.

The sit-in began Friday and has fast become a symbol of the sour economy's impact on labor. The workers have promised to remain inside the plant in shifts until they get assurances they will receive severance and vacation pay.

"We hope that this kind of leverage and pressure will encourage Bank of America to do the right thing for this business," Blagojevich said from outside the plant. "Take some of that federal tax money that they've received and invest it by providing the necessary credit to this company so these workers can keep their jobs."

Republic has not made a move to evict the workers since they began the sit-in Friday, the day they lost their jobs with just a few days' notice.

Their plight has drawn support from President-elect Barack Obama, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and others.

"We're going strong," Leah Fried, an organizer for the United Electrical Workers union, said earlier Monday. "We're not going anywhere until there's resolution."

Fried said the company told the union that Bank of America canceled its financing. Bank of America said Saturday it wasn't responsible for Republic's financial obligations to its employees.

On Monday, Bank of America officials said Republic Windows and Doors should "honor its obligations to its employees and minimize the impact of failure."

Bank officials said they've worked with the company for months and it's unfortunate Republic hasn't been able to "reverse its declining circumstances." The bank said it'll continue to honor agreements with the company and give the "maximum amount of funding" it can under the terms of the agreement.

But as a lender, bank officials said they're not "empowered to direct the company" on how to manage affairs.

Republic officials have not returned messages for comment.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez said Republic representatives will meet later Monday with union and bank officials.

Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said from the shuttered plant that he would talk to fellow senators about reminding banks that taxpayer dollars are not for dividends or executive salaries.

"We have been sending billions of dollars to banks like Bank of America and the reason we have sent them the money is to tell them that they had to loan this money out to companies just like Republic so that we can keep these companies in business and not lose these jobs here in the United States," he said.

The governor, meanwhile, said the state plans to pursue a court injunction Tuesday to make sure federal law is followed in giving workers benefits. And state Attorney General Lisa Madigan was investigating the company.

The laid-off workers are occupying the plant around-the-clock in eight-hour shifts, Fried said. About 60 were inside early Monday.

Obama said Sunday the company should honor its commitments to the laid-off employees.

"The workers who are asking for the benefits and payments that they have earned, I think they're absolutely right and understand that what's happening to them is reflective of what's happening across this economy," Obama said.

One of the workers, Silvia Mazon, said in Spanish that she needs the money owed to her for an $1,800 monthly house payment. The 40-year-old Cicero resident said she has enough money saved to survive for one month.

"We're making history," she said.

Local Union Members Protest In Charlotte

The four-day sit-in extended to the Queen City on Monday. About a dozen people gathered to protest right in the middle of uptown Charlotte.

"Bail out the workers, not the banks," they shouted.

The protest highlights the Charlotte connection to the labor dispute in Chicago. Local union members are outraged by what happened at Republic Windows and Doors.

"Bank of America received $25 billion in bailout money and now they're saying we can't continue to give Republic Windows and Doors a $5 million credit line?" asked Salia Warren, one of the protesters.

Warren and others tried to deliver a letter to Bank of America headquarters, but they were turned away.

Many uptown workers ignored the protest, but it did resonate with Rodney Courtney as he and others passed by.

"I'm looking for work too so I know exactly how they feel," he said.

The dispute brings unwanted notoriety at a time when Charlotte is already waiting to see how many jobs it will cut in its merger with Merrill Lynch.

Workers protest outside Bank of America

Posted: Dec 8, 2008 11:27 AM
Updated: Dec 8, 2008 11:55 PM
Written by Michael Handy
Video which shows protest at

(this printed story from their website was posted prior to the demonstration-ACFJ)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Members of the local United Electrical Union are taking over the Plaza in Center City to stage a huge protest outside Bank of America's headquarters.

They are coming to show support for workers who have been occupying a now-closed Chicago manufacturing plant.

Bank of America was the lender that kept this Chicago plant up and running, so when Bank of America recently decided to end that financing, it meant the plant had to shut down.

Hundreds of employees at Republic Window and Door received only a three-day notice telling them what had happened.

That is the key point here. Illinois law requires companies to give at least a 75-day notice or else pay the workers for the amount they would have made during that 75 days.

These workers have quickly gained national attention because they are refusing to leave the plant until someone cuts a check. About 200 folks have not left since Friday, and volunteers are now bringing in blankets, food, and water.

Their biggest complaint is the fact that Bank of America was one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Wall Street bailout.

"The situation is just outrageous. It's shameful. Bank of America got $25 billion in bailout money. And then on top of it, they don't want to authorize the company to pay their vacation and severance they're owed under law? I mean, these are just what they're owed under law. We're not asking for anything extra," said Leah Fried, a spokeswoman for United Electrical Workers.

None of the folks who will be protesting on the Plaza have any connection to this Chicago plant. They are simply members of the same union, and felt it was their duty to come protest at Bank of America's headquarters.

The protest starts at 12:30 p.m. WBTV On Your Side will be there and have a complete report starting on our 5:00 p.m. newscast.

Workers Rights are Human Rights!
Organize the South!
Support the Struggles of the NC Public Sector Workers Union, UE local 150

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