Republic Reaches $1.75 Million Settlement with WorkersDecember 11th, 2008 by Editor
Republic Windows and Doors has reached a settlement with its employees, who’ve been occupying the plant since it closed on Friday, in which they’ll receive eight weeks of pay, two months continued health coverage and pay for all accrued and unused vacation.
The settlement, which totals $1.75 million, was reached late last night. Bank of America announced late yesterday it was extending a $1.35 million loan to Republic so it could pay employees. Although the money will be provided as a loan to Republic Windows and Doors, it will go directly into a third-party fund whose sole purpose is to pay the workers what is owed them.
Union workers approved the settlement by a unanimous vote.
JP Morgan Chase is funding $400,000 of the agreement.
“We have worked with the company’s management and other owners, including Chase Capital Corp., to do the right thing for employees,” says David Rudis, Illinois president for Bank of America.
“Compliance with the WARN Act is the responsibility of management and owners,” Rudis adds. “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.”
According to a statement from JP Morgan Chase, beginning in early 2007, Chase Capital Corp., a subsidiary of JPMorgan Chase & Co., invested and lent $12 million to help Republic continue to operate, becoming a minority investor in Republic. Chase Capital anticipates no recovery on those loans and investments, company officials say.
UE director of organization Bob Kingsley spoke on behalf of the National Union at a press conference last night, describing the outcome of the occupation as “a win for all working men and women who face uncertainty, unfairness and job loss in a troubled economy.”
Kingsley also announced that the group is forming a foundation called “The Window of Opportunity Fund,” which will be dedicated to re-opening the plant. It will be started with funds from the UE national union and the thousands of dollars of donations to the local UE that have resulted from the workers’ occupation of the Republic plant.
A meeting between union workers from the company and bank officials was held yesterday at 1 p.m. CST and negotiations went late into the evening.
The negotiation committee returned to the plant at around 8:25 p.m. CST to discuss the bargaining results with fellow employees.
No statement has yet been released by Republic regarding the recent negotiations or settlement.
Republic issued a statement late Monday saying officials knew since mid-October that the company would be closing, and that on November 25, the company requested permission from the Bank of America to issue vacation pay to all employees. According to Republic, that request was rejected on November 26.
“Despite inheriting a company bloated with overhead and lacking any type of manufacturing discipline and/or productivity, the company makes significant improvements only to encounter and unprecedented decline in new home construction, which led to a decline of company sales to new construction of 80 percent,” reads the statement from Republic, in reference to the period leading up to the closure. “This placed the company in the impossible position of not having the ability to further reduce fixed costs, coupled with severe constrictions in the capital debt markets and an unwillingness of the current debt holder to continue funding the operations.”
Repeated attempts to reach Republic have been unsuccessful. (CLICK HERE for Monday’s statement.)
DWM reported on Sunday, December 7, that Gillman was linked to a new window company, Echo Windows, incorporated in the state of Illinois on November 18. Republic issued a statement late Monday about the closure that also made light of his involvement with Echo. Just last Thursday—one day after the announcement that Republic was closing—TRACO announced that it had sold its residential vinyl replacement window business to then unknown Echo. (CLICK HERE here for related story.)
The Republic story has garnered national attention, including that of President-elect Barack Obama and the interest of all major news outlets. (CLICK HERE for related article from the New York Times.)
Stay tuned to www.dwmmag.com for more updates as the story unfolds.
Alan Goldberg, contributing writer for DWM magazine, was at the Republic plant Monday to report on this story. Additional reporting was done by DWM editors Penny Stacey and Tara Taffera.