Statement by AFL-CIO President John Sweeney
In Support of Striking Chicago Factory Workers
At Republic Windows and Doors
December 9, 2008
The 10 million members of the AFL-CIO stand in solidarity with over 200 members of the United Electrical Workers who, in championing their own rights, are taking on the rampant corporate abuse of workers across this country during dire economic times. These workers' peaceful occupation of the shuttered Republic Windows and Doors plant in Chicago has put Washington and Wall Street on notice that working people have had enough. We applaud President-elect Barack Obama's support for the workers' demands to receive the vacation time and severance pay that they have earned. Republic and its creditors should meet immediately with these workers to honor their reasonable demands.
Our nation cannot afford to bail out banks and investment firms while leaving workers behind. Only weeks after taking $25 billion in federal bailout money, Bank of America has refused to extend a line of credit to Republic, preventing the workers from either keeping their jobs or receiving severance pay. Bank of America's deplorable behavior is but one symptom of a financial industry that sets its bottom line above the heads of working people. Like so many Wall Street titans, Bank of America took billions in government handouts on the premise that they would extend credit to businesses so that working people could keep their jobs. The striking workers at the Republic plant are rightfully holding them to their promise.
No worker should have to face the loss of his or her job with three days' notice, especially in the midst of the holiday season. As millions of our fellow Americans struggle to make ends meet this winter without a job, Congress cannot afford to remain complacent any longer. Working families are in urgent need of a major jobs-producing economic stimulus now. If our leaders are serious about saving the middle class, then we need an economic agenda that will support good, green jobs like the ones at Republic and hold our financial institutions accountable for their actions.