PDA

View Full Version : Obama Says Workers at Closed Chicago Factory Should Receive Pay


jason
12-07-2008, 08:22 PM
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=agNVleCqrcWI&refer=home


Dec. 7 (Bloomberg) -- President-elect Barack Obama said that union workers in Chicago who are protesting their factory’s sudden closure with a sit-in are justified in demanding their benefits and pay.

“I think they’re absolutely right,” Obama said today in response to a question at a Chicago news conference. “And understand that what’s happening to them is reflective of what’s happening across this economy.”

Obama, who gave up his Illinois Senate seat last month after the Nov. 4 election, was asked at a press conference today to weigh in on the protest at Chicago’s Republic Windows & Doors factory, which closed on Dec. 5 after Bank of America canceled its line of credit.

Workers “are occupying the plant around the close this weekend, in an effort to force the company and its main creditor to meet their obligations to workers,” the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers Union says on its Web site.

Ought Six
12-07-2008, 08:23 PM
Obama is very free with his opinions on how other peoples' money should be spent. But then, as a politician, that is hardly surprising.

BirdGuano
12-07-2008, 08:29 PM
Obama is very free with his opinions on how other peoples' money should be spent. But then, as a politician, that is hardly surprising.

The WARN act requires it, but Bank of America has refused to pay it out of bankruptcy which negates the warn act.

It's really up to a judge to decide. And I'm sure that is where it will go next.

But Obama seems to want to try it in the court of public opinion, which isn't surprising.

dyrt
12-07-2008, 09:36 PM
Obama will learn quickly enough to stay out of these private disputes . . . unless he thinks he is king or something worse.

Fiddlerdave
12-08-2008, 04:11 AM
Obama will learn quickly enough to stay out of these private disputes . . . unless he thinks he is king or something worse.

Geez, this kind of reaction to a comment after Bush's, and every other Republican's, jumping on the news bandwagon in the Shiavo case? Or the Longshoreman's strike? Or pushing the TARP?

Obama simply said they are "justified" in demanding their owed paychecks, makes him a "king or something worse..."

I suppose that is radical to people who believe corporations are gods unto themselves. :re:

afljafa
12-08-2008, 04:59 AM
I guess the article had the desired effect by mentioning Obama but in reality this is such a non event and the meat is further into the article. As FD said - He simply suggested they are justified in demanding that which is owed.

Anyone think they aint?

Ross
12-08-2008, 07:28 AM
Surely workers have first claim to available money before creditors etc .
Presumably the directors paid themselves out long ago ( just guessing
but that would include - a bonus for "best practice" management of failure ) .

Which raises the interesting question as to whether there is a mechanism
for clawback from directors in favor of workers entitlements ?

rryan
12-08-2008, 12:22 PM
I guess the article had the desired effect by mentioning Obama but in reality this is such a non event and the meat is further into the article. As FD said - He simply suggested they are justified in demanding that which is owed.

Anyone think they aint?

Me.

An employer should have the right to hire/fire at will within the parameters of the contract between the employee and employer.

Johnny
12-08-2008, 02:39 PM
If a compnay owes an employee compensation for past wages they must pay, if not the employees should be first in line in bankruptcy court.


The labor union’s goal “is to at least get the compensation that workers are owed,” its Web site says. The workers also want the company to resume operations and, if it closes, are seeking 60 days notice and a “fair severance package,” according to a fact sheet distributed by the union.
The union fact sheet also says the average wage at the factory, which manufactures vinyl windows, is $14 an hour. Workers also “receive good health coverage and retirement benefits,” the union statement said.


60 days notice and a fair severance package? That is crap! The company went bust! Too damn bad! Find another job!

Fiddlerdave
12-08-2008, 04:24 PM
If a compnay owes an employee compensation for past wages they must pay, if not the employees should be first in line in bankruptcy court.


60 days notice and a fair severance package? That is crap! The company went bust! Too damn bad! Find another job!It sounds like regular wages are owed, and severance and notice are too. Those are wages, and legally owed. How do you think top execs get their multi-million golden parachutes when the corporations go bankrupt?

We see that there is one law for the top and the attitude of different laws for workers at the bottom.

A side note in situations like the above:

I do hope people keep in mind that if their company goes under, you usually IMMEDIATELY have NO health insurance, sometimes retroactively for a month or so, and there is usually no COBRA available in that event either.

So if you or your spouse or children have a health condition, you may only have a matter of days to replace the policy privately to not break coverage and lose coverage for pre-existing conditions and probably become uninsurable, period.

In fact, if the company fails to make a curent payment, the policies are usuall canceled for the previous 30 days, and you will have broken coverage with no opportunity at all to apply for new insurance, and you will also personally owe for any claims you made in the previous 30 days.

So een if you have the cash to make your private premiums while unemployed, you could still easily end up uncovered. Work fast, and if you have health conditions the insurance companies will lie to you to stall you past deadlines.

afljafa
12-08-2008, 04:35 PM
Me.

An employer should have the right to hire/fire at will within the parameters of the contract between the employee and employer.

The article isn't really about hiring and firing (although they did get fired) - it's about getting payed. If they are "demanding their benefits and pay" then I would assume they havn't been paid for work done.

I will admit that the unions will probably fuck this up with some of their other demands.

Johnny
12-08-2008, 05:07 PM
It sounds like regular wages are owed, and severance and notice are too. Those are wages, and legally owed. How do you think top execs get their multi-million golden parachutes when the corporations go bankrupt?

We see that there is one law for the top and the attitude of different laws for workers at the bottom.



Gotta link for the top execs getting their multi-million golden parachutes?

leistb
12-08-2008, 05:23 PM
In Factory Sit-In, an Anger Spread Wide
Beth Rooney for The New York Times

Workers laid off from a Chicago factory on Saturday at what they called an occupation of the plant. They criticized their former bosses, the company’s creditors and the federal government. By MONICA DAVEY (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/d/monica_davey/index.html?inline=nyt-per)

Published: December 7, 2008

CHICAGO — The scene inside a long, low-slung factory on this city’s North Side this weekend offered a glimpse at how the nation’s loss of more than 600,000 manufacturing jobs in a year of recession is boiling over.

Fredrico Martinez, who joined other workers in a prayer vigil, said he had worked at the factory for nine years.

(javascript:pop_me_up2('http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2008/12/08/us/08chicagoCA03ready.html', '08chicagoCA03ready', 'width=720,height=600,scrollbars=yes,toolbars=no,r esizable=yes'))
(javascript:pop_me_up2('http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2008/12/08/us/08chicagoCA03ready.html', '08chicagoCA03ready', 'width=720,height=600,scrollbars=yes,toolbars=no,r esizable=yes'))The Rev. Jesse Jackson, delivering a bag of food, was among the visiting leaders who met with the workers over the weekend.
(javascript:pop_me_up2('http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2008/12/08/us/08chicagoCA04ready.html', '08chicagoCA04ready', 'width=370,height=600,scrollbars=yes,toolbars=no,r esizable=yes'))
(javascript:pop_me_up2('http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2008/12/08/us/08chicagoCA04ready.html', '08chicagoCA04ready', 'width=370,height=600,scrollbars=yes,toolbars=no,r esizable=yes'))The company, which was founded in 1965 and once employed more than 700 people, had struggled in recent months as home construction dipped, workers said.


Workers laid off Friday from Republic Windows and Doors, who for years assembled vinyl windows and sliding doors here, said they would not leave, even after company officials announced that the factory was closing.

Some of the plant’s 250 workers stayed all night, all weekend, in what they were calling an occupation of the factory. Their sharpest criticisms were aimed at their former bosses, who they said gave them only three days’ notice of the closing, and the company’s creditors. But their anger stretched broadly to the government’s costly corporate bailout plans, which, they argued, had forgotten about regular workers.

“They want the poor person to stay down,” said Silvia Mazon, 47, a mother of two who worked as an assembler here for 13 years and said she had never before been the sort to march in protests or make a fuss. “We’re here, and we’re not going anywhere until we get what’s fair and what’s ours. They thought they would get rid of us easily, but if we have to be here for Christmas, it doesn’t matter.”

The workers, members of Local 1110 of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, said they were owed vacation and severance pay and were not given the 60 days of notice generally required by federal law when companies make layoffs. Lisa Madigan, the attorney general of Illinois, said her office was investigating, and representatives from her office interviewed workers at the plant on Sunday.

At a news conference Sunday, President-elect Barack Obama (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/o/barack_obama/index.html?inline=nyt-per) said the company should follow through on its commitments to its workers.
“The workers who are asking for the benefits and payments that they have earned,” Mr. Obama said, “I think they’re absolutely right and understand that what’s happening to them is reflective of what’s happening across this economy.”

Company officials, who were no longer at the factory, did not return telephone or e-mail messages. A meeting between the owners and workers is scheduled for Monday. The company, which was founded in 1965 and once employed more than 700 people, had struggled in recent months as home construction dipped, workers said.

Still, as they milled around the factory’s entrance this weekend, some workers said they doubted that the company was really in financial straits, and they suggested that it would reopen elsewhere with cheaper costs and lower pay. Others said managers had kept their struggles secret, at one point before Thanksgiving removing heavy equipment in the middle of the night but claiming, when asked about it, that all was well.

Workers also pointedly blamed Bank of America (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/business/companies/bank_of_america_corporation/index.html?inline=nyt-org), a lender to Republic Windows, saying the bank had prevented the company from paying them what they were owed, particularly for vacation time accrued.

“Here the banks like Bank of America get a bailout, but workers cannot be paid?” said Leah Fried, an organizer with the union workers. “The taxpayers would like to see that bailout go toward saving jobs, not saving C.E.O.’s.”

In a statement issued Saturday, Bank of America officials said they could not comment on an individual client’s situation because of confidentiality obligations. Still, a spokeswoman also said, “Neither Bank of America nor any other third party lender to the company has the right to control whether the company complies with applicable laws or honors its commitments to its employees.”

Inside the factory, the “occupation” was relatively quiet. The Chicago police said that they were monitoring the situation but that they had had no reports of a criminal matter to investigate.

About 30 workers sat in folding chairs on the factory floor. (Reporters and supporters were not allowed to enter, but the workers could be observed through an open door.) They came in shifts around the clock. They tidied things. They shoveled snow. They met with visiting leaders, including Representatives Luis V. Gutierrez and Jan Schakowsky, both Democrats from Illinois, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/j/jesse_l_jackson/index.html?inline=nyt-per).

Throughout the weekend, people came by with donations of food, water and other supplies.

The workers said they were determined to keep their action — reminiscent, union leaders said, of autoworkers’ efforts in Michigan in the 1930s — peaceful and to preserve the factory.

“The fact is that workers really feel like they have nothing to lose at this point,” Ms. Fried said. “It shows something about our economic times, and it says something about how people feel about the bailout.”

Until last Tuesday, many workers here said, they had no sense that there was any problem. Shortly before 1 p.m. that day, workers were told in a meeting that the plant would close Friday, they said. Some people wept, others expressed fury.

Many employees said they had worked in the factory for decades. Lalo Muńoz, who was among those sleeping over in the building, said he arrived 34 years ago. The workers — about 80 percent of them Hispanic, with the rest black or of other ethnic and national backgrounds — made $14 an hour on average and received health care and retirement benefits, Ms. Fried said.

“This never happens — to take a company from the inside,” Ms. Mazon said. “But I’m fighting for my family, and we’re not going anywhere.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/08/us/08chicago.html?_r=2&em

dyrt
12-08-2008, 08:37 PM
Why should the employees get first shot at any assets? The creditors are businesses and in this case a bunch of small businesses with employees of their own. Those small businesses sold them office supplies, raw materials etc. Maybe they should start their own mob to get attention.

I can understand that those employees are mad and scared but they will get in line with all the other people that are owed money. They are wasting time. Its over. They need to get out and look for work.

afljafa
12-08-2008, 09:11 PM
Why should the employees get first shot at any assets? The creditors are businesses and in this case a bunch of small businesses with employees of their own. Those small businesses sold them office supplies, raw materials etc. Maybe they should start their own mob to get attention.

I can understand that those employees are mad and scared but they will get in line with all the other people that are owed money. They are wasting time. Its over. They need to get out and look for work.

Those small businesses can probably write those debts of against their taxes. As a business owner I know I certainly can and do.

leistb
12-08-2008, 10:26 PM
Those small businesses can probably write those debts of against their taxes. As a business owner I know I certainly can and do.

As a business owner I can and do write those losses off as well. Unfortunately, those losses that I'm able to write off equate to only a fraction of what the net loss is to me by the time the government gets done applying its twisted logic to my tax return.

afljafa
12-08-2008, 10:57 PM
As a business owner I can and do write those losses off as well. Unfortunately, those losses that I'm able to write off equate to only a fraction of what the net loss is to me by the time the government gets done applying its twisted logic to my tax return.

Creative accounting ;)

Nice avatar. I used to do a great deal of it in my younger days.

sandyd
12-09-2008, 12:01 PM
there is usually no COBRA available in that event either.

Why no COBRA if the company goes under? I didn't know that was possible...I know COBRA is so expensive it's nutz but not even the ability to turn it down if the company closes?

Others said managers had kept their struggles secret, at one point before Thanksgiving removing heavy equipment in the middle of the night but claiming, when asked about it, that all was well.

An investigation might show the upper management got parachutes and were paid severence while the workers were dumped on. I hope someone goes looking for it.

BirdGuano
12-09-2008, 02:30 PM
Why no COBRA if the company goes under? I didn't know that was possible...I know COBRA is so expensive it's nutz but not even the ability to turn it down if the company closes?

COBRA is not offered when a company goes into bankruptcy. COBRA requires the company offer
group insurance to be eligible, which it ceases to do when it goes into liquidation.

No company. No COBRA.

You end up being in the creditor line for any crumbs that may be left, just like the toilet paper vendor.

It's even worse if they are self-insured.

A fact MANY former employees are now finding out the hard way.

Sysiphus
12-09-2008, 02:40 PM
Obama is very free with his opinions on how other peoples' money should be spent. But then, as a politician, that is hardly surprising.

Yes; how awful to suggest that workers get paid for hours they have already worked and benefits they have already accrued. How horrible to suggest that BofA, once it takes over the operations of a debtor, actually has to comply with nitpicky federal laws like the WARN Act. He must be a vile socialist to have such views and say such things. And, by the way, he is still technically senator for Illinois last time I checked.

BirdGuano
12-09-2008, 03:42 PM
And, by the way, he is still technically senator for Illinois last time I checked.

I don't think the bidding has closed on that yet. :D

Fiddlerdave
12-10-2008, 05:53 AM
Gotta link for the top execs getting their multi-million golden parachutes?Why don;t you post some examples of when they don't? One of our recent institutional collapses would be a nice example.

I was speaking generally in corporate failures, but I would not be surprised in this case either.

Here's one example that make a mockery of "bankruptcy" laws. Cut off the pensions of already-retired workers (which are then cut down and partially paid by a government-supported fund) and get 40 million dollars bonus for a job "well-done"!
NEW YORK (AP) — The chairman, chief executive and president of UAL, parent of United Airlines, received compensation worth $39.7 million in 2006, UAL's first year as a standalone company after emerging from three years of bankruptcy protection.
The lion's share of Glenn Tilton's remuneration came in the form of stock and option awards granted in February, including an award the -based company valued at $20 million when it was issued Feb. 2, one day after UAL emerged from bankruptcy.

Tilton received subsequent awards worth about $18 million over the next four weeks, the company said in a regulatory filing Monday. He was paid a base salary of $687,083, received $839,028 in non-equity incentive plan compensation and was granted other compensation of $210,959.

Among the perquisites Tilton received was the use of a company car and driver, which UAL said was worth $40,196. He also received unlimited air travel aboard United Airlines and reimbursement for financial management advisory service.

The Associated Press calculations of total pay include executives' salary, bonus, incentives, perks, above-market returns on deferred compensation and the estimated value of stock options and awards granted during the year. They may vary from totals listed in the summary compensation table in the company's proxy filed with the SEC.

UAL's bankruptcy filing made headlines in 2002 because it was the largest ever by an airline. The company labored to reduce operating costs and eventually received permission to terminate its pensions covering 120,000 workers, shifting $5 billion in obligations to a federal pension guarantor in one of the largest pension defaults in U.S. history.

UAL shares rose 22 cents to $38.54 in electronic aftermarket trading after falling $1.09, or 2.8%, to close Monday at $38.32 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

Johnny
12-10-2008, 08:59 AM
Why don;t you post some examples of when they don't? One of our recent institutional collapses would be a nice example.

I was speaking generally in corporate failures, but I would not be surprised in this case either.

Here's one example that make a mockery of "bankruptcy" laws. Cut off the pensions of already-retired workers (which are then cut down and partially paid by a government-supported fund) and get 40 million dollars bonus for a job "well-done"!

Damn dude! There aren't good enough facts presented so you just make shit up?

Johnny
12-10-2008, 02:51 PM
Chase offers $400,000 in Chicago factory sit-in

http://www.reuters.com/article/newsO...4B961020081210 (http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE4B961020081210)

Wed Dec 10, 2008 2:31pm EST
By Andrew Stern

CHICAGO (Reuters) - JPMorgan Chase & Co offered $400,000 on Wednesday to help pay severance to laid-off workers occupying a Chicago factory, whose protest symbolizes resentment over the federal bailout of big banks while workers suffer.

JPMorgan Chase's offer, announced by Rep. Luis Gutierrez, who has been mediating the dispute, follows on Bank of America Corp's pledge to make an unspecified, limited loan to Republic Windows & Doors on behalf of the 250 workers.

Both banks are creditors of Republic, a family-owned window and door manufacturer that fell victim to the housing downturn and shut down on Friday.

The workers, who were given three days' notice of the closure, have occupied the shuttered plant since then, demanding a legally mandated 60 days' pay for severance, and accrued vacation pay.

JPMorgan Chase's $400,000 pledge was described by Gutierrez as capital, and how the transfer would be structured was still to be worked out, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Democrat said.

Bank of America said its additional loan to Republic would have to be negotiated, as its previous line of credit to the company had "maxed out."

Several hundred supporters of the workers marched on Bank of America's Chicago offices, where negotiations among the parties were set to resume for a third day.

The worker sit-in that began on Friday has become a symbol of Main Street resentment of the federal bailout of Wall Street banks, which Bank of America has tapped for $15 billion and JPMorgan for $25 billion.

President-elect Barack Obama and other politicians have voiced support for the workers' cause, arguing that the Wall Street bailout was not serving its purpose to loosen credit for Main Street businesses.

Democratic Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, on the day before he was charged with corruption in office, had said he was ordering a withdrawal of state business from Bank of America. A spokeswoman for the governor said it was "premature" to discuss what actions were being taken, since there were promising signs that the factory dispute was nearer a resolution.

(Additional reporting by Deborah Charles, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

Renegade
12-11-2008, 06:50 AM
Chicago workers end sit-in at closed factory

By MICHAEL TARM – 39 minutes ago

CHICAGO (AP) — With cheers and chants that echoed President-elect Barack Obama's campaign of change, jubilant workers agreed to a $1.75 million settlement that ends their six-day occupation of a shuttered Chicago factory that became a symbol of the plight of labor nationwide.

Republic Windows & Doors, union leaders and Bank of America reached the deal Wednesday evening. Each former Republic employee will get eight weeks' salary, all accrued vacation pay and two months' paid health care, said U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, who helped broker the deal. He said it works out to about $7,000 apiece.

"We lost the jobs but we got something," said Lalo Munoz, who worked at the plant for 24 years.

About 200 of 240 laid-off workers began their sit-in last week after Republic gave them just three days' notice the plant was closing. The workers had argued that Republic violated federal law because employees were not given 60 days' notice. They vowed to stay until they received assurances they would get severance and accrued vacation pay.

Workers carrying sleeping bags left the factory late Wednesday amid cheers of "Yes We Can," a slogan that became part of Obama's campaign.

Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat, said $1.75 million will go into an escrow account for the workers, $1.35 million of which came from Bank of America in the form of a loan to Republic.

"Although we are a lender with no obligation to pay Republic's employees or make additional loans to Republic, we agreed to extend an additional loan to be used exclusively to pay its employees," David Rudis, the bank's Illinois president, said in a statement.

New York-based JPMorgan Chase & Co. pledged $400,000 to use strictly for the protesting employees, Gutierrez said.

The workers are "very, very satisfied" with the agreement, said Mark Meinster of the United Electrical Workers union, which represents the employees.

"Hopefully this is an example for workers across the country that when things like this happen, you can step up, you can speak out, and you can win," he said.

Lawmakers earlier criticized Bank of America for cutting off funds to the plant after it exhausted its credit line even though the Charlotte, N.C.-based bank itself received $25 billion from the government's financial bailout package. The bank was given that money so it could provide credit to companies like Republic that employ workers, Meinster said.

"We're hopeful the banks got that message," he said. "My sense is it's going to take a lot more."

Around 100 supporters of the workers gathered Wednesday in downtown Chicago where negotiators were meeting, some beating drums and others chanting: "They got bailed out. We got sold out."

"This money is not, under any circumstance, to be used for corporate bonuses, luxury cars or any other perk for the owners of the plant," Gutierrez said in a statement.

Republic officials did not return messages Wednesday from The Associated Press. Messages left seeking further details from JPMorgan Chase were also not returned.

Rudis said Republic is "unable to operate profitably." Over the past two years, the factory lost $10 million while borrowing the maximum amount possible under its agreement with Bank of America, the company said.
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ildwrFjwHYjvJPX2edZgBnNb8EEQD950FBUO1

rb.
12-11-2008, 07:59 AM
Family owned companies, or companies with 40 employees are highly unlikely to make enough for anyone to ever receive a golden parachute. More likely that one, or the, owner(s) have put their home on the line for credit. Having worked in several of these businesses, and done the books, I've seen it time after time. And the owner loses his/her shirt by the closing down of the company, while the employee loses a job.

BirdGuano
12-11-2008, 12:57 PM
More likely that one, or the, owner(s) have put their home on the line for credit. Having worked in several of these businesses, and done the books, I've seen it time after time. And the owner loses his/her shirt by the closing down of the company, while the employee loses a job.

Especially since this is pretty much the ONLY way to get an SBA loan.

dyrt
12-11-2008, 09:40 PM
Republic Windows & Doors, union leaders and Bank of America reached the deal Wednesday evening. Each former Republic employee will get eight weeks' salary, all accrued vacation pay and two months' paid health care, said U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, who helped broker the deal. He said it works out to about $7,000 apiece.That was nice of the company but sets a bad precedent. If I was a creditor, I would be mad until I got a similar settlement.

Fiddlerdave
12-12-2008, 05:00 AM
That was nice of the company but sets a bad precedent. If I was a creditor, I would be mad until I got a similar settlement.No, it was not "nice" of the company, and all the other creditors were not cheated. But of course, when a union is mentioned, everything about the employees is evil.

By law, such direct employee current pay, accrued vacation, and other items considered part of their regular pay (but not bonuses, pensions etc.) is a priority debt in every state I know of, and takes precedence over all other regular creditors.

Also, it is quite likely that the company is not penniless, and this is a BK of convenience (after incredible profitability during the housing boom, business slowed, so the management is dumping debts and closing down). One and a half years ago, the company sold its biggest plant to the Wrigley company for 31 million dollars. With a small company like that, some of that kind of money went somewhere other than critical expenses.

It is quite obvious the owners are retiring quite comfortably.