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...
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.
It's a new day. No longer will corporate interests always trump those of the everyday person. Finally our country is moving in the right direction.
Workers carrying sleeping bags left the factory late Wednesday amid cheers of "Yes We Can," a slogan that became part of Obama's campaign.Clearly, "Yes We Can" is more than a slogan now.