Sit-In at Republic Ends in $1.75 Million Loan Agreement

Wednesday, Dec 10, 2008  |  Updated 9:53 PM CDT
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Sit-In at Republic Ends in $1.75 Million Loan Agreement

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Employees of Republic Windows and Doors factory occupy the main entrance to the factory on Tuesday in Chicago. The plant closed last week, with workers occupying the facility for five days, after financing for the beleaguered company was canceled.

In a democratic vote, workers have approved a proposal to end the six-day sit-in at a Chicago window and door factory that's come to symbolize the plight of laid-off labor.

U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez said each former Republic Windows & Door employee will get eight weeks salary, all accrued vacation pay and two months paid health care. He says it works out to about $7,000 for each worker.

Parties including the plant's owners, union leaders and Bank of America forged the agreement Wednesday.

Gutierrez says $1.75 million will go into an escrow account for the workers.

Bank of America spokeswoman Julie Westermann said the company loaned $1.35 million. Gutierrez said JPMorgan Chase & Co. added $400,000.

The factory closed last Friday after Bank of America canceled its financing.

Workers were given three days notice, but they refused to leave and vowed to stay there until receiving assurances they would receive severance and accrued vacation pay.

Bank of America had been criticized for cutting off the plant's credit after taking federal bailout money, with Gov. Rod Blagojevich threatening the lender with future state business unless it stepped up its assistance.

Republic Windows and Doors, a local symbol of tax incremental financing, also faced the heat of criticism.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said she intended to investigate the closure of the plant and is concerned with the company's actions. Additionally, Chicago aldermen vowed to hold City Council hearings and explore "every legal option" to force Republic to re-pay $9.3 million in TIF funds used to build the Goose Island.

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