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Republic Windows and Doors (update)
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, December 09, 2008

This particular case is emblematic of how asinine our situation has become, but typical, I think, of our future.

Republic Windows and Doors lays off 250 people last week and closes its doors. They get 3 days notice and they end up not getting already-earned vacation time and severance pay. Why? Because Republic Windows and Doors doesn't have the money.

So they stage a sit-in and it attracts politicians like flies to, uh, bees to honey. Naturally the bad guy in all of this ends up being a bank. You see, the bank, which had extended a credit line to the company saw that the company was circling the drain and pulled the credit line figuring it would never see any of the money again as the company was obviously failing. Unfortunately, for the workers that is, the line was pulled before what amounts to about $3,500 per worker could be paid.

The bad guy is Bank of America and the reason it is the bad guy is this:
As part of government bailout efforts for the struggling banking industry, Bank of America has received $15 billion, and is expected to receive an additional $10 billion. That fact left many workers here seething.

“Taxpayers would like to see that bailout money go toward saving jobs, not saving C.E.O.’s,” said Leah Fried, an organizer for the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America. “This is outrageous.”
Of course the irony of the situation is that BoA got a fairly heavy lecture about making bad loans from the very same politicians (Dick Durbin) who are now saying that it should make a loan it knows it won't get back to salve the workers who are protesting. It promised to not make these sorts of loans in the future as a condition of the bailout. So, following good business practices, which would have avoided this mess had they done so before the bailout, they're now being told they should revert to the bad business practices they previously engaged in and throw good money after bad.

Just this once. Just in this case. Because, you know, that's only fair.

Sounds like the same old story to me.

UPDATE: Smelling the positive political vibes, the unpopular Illinois governor piles on (just before he was taken into Federal custody):
Gov. Blagojevich visit[ed] with laid-off workers at Republic Windows & Doors on Monday. Blagojevich called for state agencies to stop doing business with Bank of America until the bank restores credit to Republic.
 
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Comments
I believe Pres. Lightworker has already endorsed the sit-in.

He’s already a disaster for this nation
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Wait you expect politicians to pay attention to logic and math? If they had useful skills like that they would not be politicians in the first place.

What will be really interesting is what happens if/when a big 3 automaker files bankruptcy and the UAW stages a sit in for contractually obligated benefits. Isn’t this essentially extortion?

GH
 
Written By: GeekHeretic
URL: http://geekheretic.com
You conveniently omitted the fact that the company moved some of its manufacturing equipment out of the plant overnight, around Thanksgiving, without telling the workers it was going to be done or explaining why afterwards. It then continued to reassure workers that there were no plans to close the factory. The workers stayed on their jobs until being fired last Friday, with no notice until Wednesday afternoon. There are rumors the company plans to reopen overseas, which the company refuses to address.

All this was obviously planned in advance, with the company lying to the workers to keep them from seeking other jobs. The money spent on moving the machinery, and on futile operations over the past three weeks and more, could have been used to pay the company’s legal obligations to its workers - money the workers were promised as a part of their compensation, and have earned, and which the company connived to keep from them. The company bears responsibility for that, but its lender - which partly financed these shenanigans - also bears responsibility.

These workers are not asking for a bailout or a handout. They are asking for their own pay and benefits, which they have worked for in good faith, have earned, and are legally entitled to. They are just asking that the people who cooperated to steal their money be held responsible for giving it back.
 
Written By: Kevin T. Keith
URL: http://www.sufficientscruples.com
Just a small point: Blagojevich is governor of Illinois. He also just got arrested today...
 
Written By: Oscar
URL: http://
the UAW stages a sit in for contractually obligated benefits. Isn’t this essentially extortion?

How is demanding the pay you have already earned through your labor, and are legally entitled to, "extortion"? How is it that the actions of these companies, in making legally binding promises to workers, which the workers honor with their labor, and then refusing to grant the pay the workers have already earned, are not simply fraud and theft? If the companies are being advanced money to cover their operating costs - money which, in the case of the financial institutions that have already received bailouts, they are using for stockholder dividends and executive pay, not operations - why is paying the people who actually do the work not in fact part of those costs?

The implication of this entire thread seems to be that it’s actually illegitimate for workers to expect to be paid what they have been promised, even after they have already held up their end of the bargain by providing labor that the company took from them without compensation. Punctuate you, asteriskhole.
 
Written By: Kevin T. Keith
URL: http://www.sufficientscruples.com
The company bears responsibility for that, but its lender - which partly financed these shenanigans - also bears responsibility.
Sorry, but even accepting for the moment that evertything else you said is true, where do you get this from? How does anything you said in the comment obligate BoA to take the money that other people have deposited in BoA for safekeeping or investment purposes and practically throw it away by making a loan that it know will not be paid back?
 
Written By: Terry
URL: http://
You conveniently omitted the fact that the company moved some of its manufacturing equipment out of the plant overnight, around Thanksgiving, without telling the workers it was going to be done or explaining why afterwards.
And that has what to do with BoA throwing good money after bad, which, you might have noticed, was the point of the post? Seems to me BoA figured it out and cut them off at the proper time.
They are just asking that the people who cooperated to steal their money be held responsible for giving it back.
That’s a management/labor problem - not a bank problem.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Just a small point: Blagojevich is governor of Illinois. He also just got arrested today...
Gak ... thanks Oscar, I knew that, I just blew it. Edited.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
You conveniently omitted the fact that the company moved some of its manufacturing equipment out of the plant overnight, around Thanksgiving, without telling the workers it was going to be done or explaining why afterwards (sic).
Perhaps a lender with security rights in the equipment repossessed it? Certainly management would not want to tell employees that it could not keep up the payments on a piece of production equipment. Or perhaps the company found someone who would buy it from them and supply enough cash to get another day or two of cash flow, or a vendor paid. I can think of reasons why a troubled company might have machinery disappear without comment to the workers that did not mean the management was screwing the workers.
 
Written By: Loren
URL: http://
Consider this a dry run for the day the Social Security Trust Fund runs out. The government can keep printing pieces of paper and selling bonds and taxing the rich, but... Unsustainable trends always end. This time it is not different.

 
Written By: MarkD
URL: http://
How is demanding the pay you have already earned through your labor, and are legally entitled to, "extortion"?
It is not extortion if the parties involved are the ones who actually signed the contract. It is extortion when it takes the form of political pressure and the bill is paid for by a party outside that contract (read taxpayers) in the form of a bailout or pretend loan.

If the company is going out of business its going out, I feel bad for the workers but that is not BofA’s problem or anyone else’s.

GH
 
Written By: GeekHeretic
URL: http://geekheretic.com
"If the company is going out of business its going out, I feel bad for the workers but that is not BofA’s problem or anyone else’s"

The problem, and this is a serious one, is that logic SHOULD have been applied to BofA itself. BofA got a ton of government money for screwing up big time. The workers get nothing for showing up and doing their job.

The rational behind the bailout is that not doing so would have irreparably harmed the rest of the economy because BofA couldn’t continue to give loans... in other words to "prevent" specifically this kind of situation.

 
Written By: Tito
URL: http://
The rational behind the bailout is that not doing so would have irreparably harmed the rest of the economy because BofA couldn’t continue to give loans... in other words to "prevent" specifically this kind of situation.
Uh, no - the bailout is supposedly to shore up the financial sector which was doing dumb things like making high risk loans and leveraging them them out in worthless paper.

It was not to pump money into the system to do stupid things like throwing money at failing companies. BoA did the right thing. Unfortunately, in the present political atmosphere, and because they did get a bailout, they’re being cast as the bad guy, when, in fact, this is a classic and typical management/labor problem.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
The bank’s due diligence should have included whether the company was defrauding its workers. If they didn’t care about that in the first place, they can’t complain about the consequences of being held responsible in the end.

As to Blagojevich’s attempted solution - to pressure the bank to keep the company solvent, in the apparent hope that it would eventually regain its footing - that may be a bad business decision if there is no reasonable chance the company will eventually succeed. But it’s perfectly legitimate to force the bank to make the workers whole as to their entitled pay and benefits. The bank freely entered into business relations with a company that deliberately ran out its cash reserves without paying its own workers what they had earned. If the bank had been exercising responsible oversight, they would have ensured that didn’t happen. Since they were willing to see their client commit fraud and theft of services while using their (the bank’s) money in doing so, they ought to pick up the tab. You lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.
 
Written By: Kevin T. Keith
URL: http://www.sufficientscruples.com
The bank’s due diligence should have included whether the company was defrauding its workers.
Uh, no. Not even close. Banks deal in numbers, profit, loss and risk. They make their decisions based on those. What is going on between a company and its employees is between the company and the employees.

Where was the union in all of this?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Kevin T. Keith - ... it’s perfectly legitimate to force the bank to make the workers whole as to their entitled pay and benefits. The bank freely entered into business relations with a company that deliberately ran out its cash reserves without paying its own workers what they had earned. If the bank had been exercising responsible oversight, they would have ensured that didn’t happen. Since they were willing to see their client commit fraud and theft of services while using their (the bank’s) money in doing so, they ought to pick up the tab. You lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.

OK, let’s extend the logic. The bank did business with a stupid / corrupt company, and therefore has some share in paying off the company’s debt, which is to say ALL the debt since the company is broke, else they wouldn’t have gone to the bank in the first place, no? Right so far?

Now, Uncle Sugar did business with the bank, which was stupid / corrupt when it did business with the window company. So, doesn’t that mean that Uncle Sugar should pay HIS share of the debt?

Which, either way you look at it, is exactly what is going to happen. Either the bank will pay the money (which they got from Uncle Sugar in the first place), or Uncle Sugar will pay it after the Congress passes some sort of do-gooder "relief" act to "help" those employees who lose pay and benefits when their companies fold up.

I understand those who think that the employees shouldn’t be made to pay for the mistakes of their management. I agree: it isn’t fair. The problem is that I can’t see why anybody but the management should pay. Banks do business with thousands of companies every day: how much "due diligence" must they do before they loan money lest they later be held responsible for the bad decisions of those companies’ management? And if they are routinely going to be held accountable, why on earth would they loan money in the first place? Shall we also extend this logic to shareholders? After all, shareholders in effect loan money to a company (collecting "interest" in the form of dividends or appreciating stock value); if the company is corrupt or mismanaged and goes bankrupt, should the shareholders be held liable for the company’s debts to its employees?
 
Written By: docjim505
URL: http://
"Where was the union in all of this?"

Great question. Given Kevin’s pretty poor understanding of the bank/client relationship vis a vis day to day operations, his answer should be interesting.
 
Written By: RFN
URL: http://
The company bears responsibility for that, but its lender - which partly financed these shenanigans - also bears responsibility.
By that logic, the company’s customers are also responsible, for buying the product and perpetuating these shenanigans...and then later to stop buying the product.
 
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://
Kevin’s pretty poor understanding of the bank/client relationship

I have a perfectly good understanding of the bank’s relationship to its client: the bank loaned them money to do business; the client used the money, directly or indirectly, to steal uncompensated labor from their workers, also committing fraud in order to do so; the company management then took their cut and locked the doors; the bank was at least partly compensated, and will certainly claim its place in line to recover assets if the company goes bankrupt; nobody in the entire mess looked out for the workers or their legal rights under contract to the company, and nobody intends to or thinks there is any reason why they should. Maybe, just conceivably, they might be encouraged to think harder.

how much "due diligence" must they do before they loan money lest they later be held responsible for the bad decisions of those companies’ management?

How about at least enough to include a clause in the lending contract requiring the company not to steal? Is that so hard?

Shall we also extend this logic to shareholders? After all, shareholders in effect loan money to a company . . .

Uh, no. Shareholders own the company, and elect the board of directors. The company officers act in their name, as employees. The shareholders and directors have an absolute responsibility to see to it that the company behaves decently, and pays its workers. Of course they should be held responsible. They are responsible. Traditionally, one of the great benefits of incorporation is limited financial liability for the corporation’s debts, but that ought to be predicated on the corporation keeping its promises to workers. Limited liability is not a license to be a thief.

Where was the union in all of this?

Well, that’s what I’d like to know. Since the workers seem to have dreamed up this futile sit-in for themselves, I’m guessing they’re among the 88% of US workers who have no union, and are expected to protect their own rights and interests against their employers individually and on their own. In this case, not only did that not give them any bargaining power, it didn’t even prevent the company from stealing the money they had actually earned. Which is maybe a good reason they should have had a union.

But even if there is or had been a union, it’s not the union’s fault that the company is corrupt. Unions are just a way for workers to speak with a stronger voice - they have no authority to make the company pay its bills, and cannot unilaterally recover pay and benefits that have been stolen and spirited away. The company bears responsibility for its own actions - it’s not the workers’ responsibility to keep the company from stealing from them, it’s the company’s responsibility not to steal from, lie to, or defaud them.
 
Written By: Kevin T. Keith
URL: http://www.sufficientscruples.com
I think we’ve solved the problem even as Kevin continues to claim he understands the bank’s responsibilities (he doesn’t) and want it to be the fall guy:
I have a perfectly good understanding of the bank’s relationship to its client: the bank loaned them money to do business; the client used the money, directly or indirectly, to steal uncompensated labor from their workers, also committing fraud in order to do so; the company management then took their cut and locked the doors; the bank was at least partly compensated, and will certainly claim its place in line to recover assets if the company goes bankrupt; nobody in the entire mess looked out for the workers or their legal rights under contract to the company, and nobody intends to or thinks there is any reason why they should.
And:

Where was the union in all of this?
Well, that’s what I’d like to know.
See the two emphasized statements?

Guess which of these entities - the bank or the union - has the responsibility to look "out for the workers or their legal rights under contract to the company".

Hint: it isn’t the bank.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Kevin, they ARE Unionized...here’s a little news flash, waving a contract at an empty ATM does NOT magically make the money appear. IF there is no money, they workers will get NO MONEY....

My partner was an employee of a tech start-up in the 1990’s. One day the boss did not run up...the next Monday it was learned that the owner had absconded with all the remaining corporate funds. Guess what, their last pay cheques...they did not get honoured. Sure they put in the time, sure they laboured for the company. Sure they weren’t criminal, but THERE WAS NO MONEY IN THE CORPORATE ACCOUNT AND SO THEY GOT NO MONEY.

What these guys are trying to do is extort the money legally owed to them, from some innocent third party(ies).

How about this, Kevin, THEIR UNION ponies up the cash!? Or they seek alternative financing and buy the business themselves? Oh no, too difficult, let’s sit in the factory, and get Jesse Jackson sympathy and hope we can pressure BoA to give us cash....and then more money, to make a product people don’t buy, rather than improve the process, cut costs and make a product, at a price, people will purchase.

Bottom-line: Wish in one hand (for the money owed) and Sh*te in the other, see which hand fills up first. Rather than holding a sit-in, why don’t they try an approach that might get them some money, in the future?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Guess which of these entities - the bank or the union - has the responsibility to look "out for the workers

Guess which one actually has any authority over the company’s bill-paying and use of funds, or can impose terms on the company as to how it meets its financial obligations.

The bank can directly influence the company. The union - if there is one - can only engage in contract negotiations. In this case, the company stole money the workers had already earned, under whatever contracts they did have, so it’s not obvious what the union could possibly have done anyway. They have no power to make the company managers not be thieves. But the bank can dictate terms to its clients, and does - it almost certainly required them to have insurance, to pay their taxes on time, and otherwise meet obligations of prudential operation. It just didn’t require them not to lie to and steal from their workers.

I’m well aware that it’s legal for the bank to do business that way. What I’m suggesting is that it ought not to be. Those who have power over private individuals’ lives have an obligation not to use it for harm. Your solution is simply to say that "it’s the union’s responsibility" to keep banks and corporations from stealing the money they control but that the workers have earned - which is to say it’s the workers’ own responsibility not only to earn their pay but to force the company to give it to them, too.

Blame the victim, much?
 
Written By: Kevin T. Keith
URL: http://www.sufficientscruples.com
The company bears responsibility for its own actions - it’s not the workers’ responsibility to keep the company from stealing from them, it’s the company’s responsibility not to steal from, lie to, or defaud them.
Written By: Kevin T. Keith
Exactly.
Look, man. As much as I’d like to be on your side of this argument (as much as I dislike banks), asking the bank for the cash doesn’t make any sense.

Think of it this way.
I loan my neighbor fifty bucks with a promise that he will pay me sixty next Tuesday so that he can pay a man to dig a hole in his yard. My neighbor then spends all of the cash on the beer he drinks while sitting watching a worker dig a hole. The worker, after discovering my neighbor has no cash, then comes to me for his fifty bucks.
That doesn’t make any sense. I’d be already be out fifty (sixty) bucks. Now I’m expected to be out another fifty?!?

Cheers.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
Guess which one actually has any authority over the company’s bill-paying and use of funds, or can impose terms on the company as to how it meets its financial obligations.
Good grief ... you’ve obviously never had a "line of credit" or know how one works if what you’re claiming here is what you believe.

None of this is the bank’s fault nor does it owe the workers a penny.

Nor should it.

It is management which owes the workers those funds.

Management.

Again, where was the entity charged with "looking out for the workers or their legal rights under contract to the company".

I notice you have scrupulously avoided laying any culpability for this at their feet. Isn’t this part of their job? Isn’t that how they sell themselves to workers? What in the hell were the workers paying all those dues for, if not some entity "looking out for the workers [and] their legal rights under contract to the company?"

Seems to me the union ought to refund their dues in the amount their owed for not doing its job.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Kevin if BoA doesn’t pony up the cash, can they turn on CitiBank, or PNC? Or can they demand that I pay them the money?

Their dispute is NOT between themselves and BoA, but between themselves and management...

They got screwed, screwing an innocent third party isn’t justice...

Rather than sit-in and whine, how about some action on their and their union’s part to get the factory re-opened, under their own or new management? Or is it preferable to sit around and wait for the “kindness of strangers?” Welcome to Recession America, now rather than feel no pain, you may have to feel some pain…

I don’t deny the workers got “had” but their solution is goofy and unjust.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
I loan my neighbor fifty bucks with a promise that he will pay me sixty next Tuesday so that he can pay a man to dig a hole in his yard. My neighbor then spends all of the cash on the beer he drinks while sitting watching a worker dig a hole. The worker, after discovering my neighbor has no cash, then comes to me for his fifty bucks.

You loan your alcoholic, deadbeat, insolvent criminal neighbor fifty bucks so he can hire a day-laborer, knowing that he’s likely to cheat that laborer after the job is done. You observe him purchasing beer and drinking it while the laborer is working, knowing that he’s drinking up the pay he promised - on your backing - to the worker. You say nothing to the worker while this is going on, and made no attempt to ensure that the pay you provided would actually get to the worker. He only took the job on assurances that the cash would be forthcoming from a reliable source. After he gets cheated, the worker comes to you and insists you are partly responsible because you knew this was likely to happen, you could see it was happening, you deliberately refrained from warning him so he could make other arrangements, and you provided the money that kicked off the enterprise in the first place.

He’s right.
 
Written By: Kevin T. Keith
URL: http://www.sufficientscruples.com
He’s right.
LOL!

Okay, then, moving right along ...
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Except Kevin the worker has paid some of that $50 to his UNION....crickets chirping....You just don’t want to go on that side of the coin do you? What are you, a union steward? Why isn’t their union giving them a tithe of their owed cash? and how about some of those highly paid Union lawyers institute civil proceedings against the management, seeking to recover those rightfully owed benefits? And again why doesn’t the Union invest some of their Union Pension funds into the company and recapitalize under the worker’s new management?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Looks like BofA caved.
 
Written By: Crusader
URL: http://www.coalitionoftheswilling.net
God bless you Kevin, for filling the void that Erb left behind. The void of utter childlike naivete at having no idea of how the world works and insisting that your view of "fairness" should be made flesh.

I have read your posts with delight, sir, for you are the real deal. If someone was Ott Scerbing you, he would have capitalized "The Workers" to give it that over-the-top communist vibe. You are either an intensely disciplined satirist or a complete nutjob. I’m fine with either.

I hope you post here often and look forward to watching you beclown yourself further.

Warmest Regards,

Jeff
 
Written By: Jeff
URL: http://
So many errors, but I will just pick one.

"I’m guessing they’re among the 88% of US workers who have no union"



"However, these workers, who are members of Local 1110 of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America,"

http://www.seiu.org/2008/12/stand-with-the-chicago-workers-of-republic-windows-and-doors-hold-bank-of-america-accountable.php
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
So we are living in an Ayn Rand Novel after all. Bank of America makes and unlikely Midas Muligan don’t you think?

GH
 
Written By: GeekHeretic
URL: http://geekheretic.com
How much "due diligence" must they do before they loan money lest they later be held responsible for the bad decisions of those companies’ management?
How about at least enough to include a clause in the lending contract requiring the company not to steal? Is that so hard?
Hey Kevin, think all of the suppliers/vendors got paid? Is that stealing? Is bankruptcy stealing? Vendors don’t get paid all the time. Banks don’t get paid all the time. At times, companies just close their doors without declaring bankruptcy, because there are just no unencumbered assets left. There is nothing to even pay the lawyers. If bankruptcy occurs, the worker’s claim is superior to other creditors. If no bankruptcy is in effect, and the company has assets (as you allege), the state and the union can both bring actions to get the workers’ paid. (Since they are not bringing those actions, my belief is that this turnip is out of blood.)

By your standard, you think it is OK to steal (your definition) from B of A so that the worker’s are not stolen from.
 
Written By: Loren
URL: http://
How much "due diligence" must they do before they loan money lest they later be held responsible for the bad decisions of those companies’ management?
How about at least enough to include a clause in the lending contract requiring the company not to steal? Is that so hard?
What an idea! Next time somebody applies for a loan or credit card or in any other way asks somebody else for money, the lender must put a clause in the contract requiring the borrower NOT TO STEAL! Because if they do, the lender will... um... er... Call the police? And does the "thou shalt not steal" clause then release the bank from the supposed responsibility to make good for the borrower’s crime(s)?

Victim - "Hey! That guy stole from me! YOU lent him money! YOU should pay me back!"

Bank - "HAH! That’s what you think! We had a ’do not steal clause’ in our contract, so we don’t owe you nothin’. Read it and weep, chump!"

As I said before, I have sympathy for the workers because they were defrauded of their pay. However, the ONLY way that I can see that the bank would be in any way responsible for making good on that debt is if it could be demonstrated that the bank conspired with the company to commit the fraud. In this case, the bank is also a victim, so I really don’t see why they should pay one thin dime.
 
Written By: docjim505
URL: http://

 
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