Friday, April 03, 2009

Labor Board Says Republic Windows Violated Laws

by: Francine Knowles | Visit article original @ The Chicago Sun-Times

Employees of Republic Windows & Doors picket outside the company's warehouse in Chicago, Illinois. Republic Windows & Doors violated national labor laws when it shut down its plant, according to a National Labor Relations Board investigation. (Photo: Frank Polich / Reuters)

Republic Windows & Doors violated national labor laws when it shut down its unionized Chicago plant and moved work to a non-union company in Iowa, the National Labor Relations Board alleges based on its investigation.

The agency's Chicago Regional Director Joseph Barker said if a settlement isn't reached, the agency will issue a formal complaint against Republic. Barker alleges Republic created Iowa-based Echo Windows as "an alter-ego entity" so Republic could avoid its collective bargaining obligations with the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America Local 1110.

The company's closure in December caused a six-day worker sit-in that made national headlines. Republic blamed the plant closing on Bank of America cutting off its credit line.

The union filed an unfair labor practice charge against Republic in January, following the plant's closing in December. The closing prompted workers to stage a successful sit-in at the plant, which drew national headlines and ended with workers getting severance and vacation pay and temporary continuation of health care benefits.

Barker alleges Republic failed to bargain in good faith in shutting down, transferring and relocating work from the Chicago plant to Iowa and failed to comply with lawful information requests made by the union for the purposes of collective bargaining. He also alleged the company refused to process grievances filed by the union.

Representatives from Republic could not immediately be reached for comment.

If a board complaint is issued, a hearing before an administrative law judge will take place.

"All this is too late to change the abuses of our rights by Republic management," Armando Robles, president of the union, said in a statement. "We were deliberately denied our rights and protections under the union contract and law, and only our occupation of the factory in December won justice for the workers."

The plant has since been bought by Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Serious Materials and will soon reopen. Serious Materials has said it plans to rehire the 250 employees. Union members will be recalled to their jobs as work ramps up at the plant under a union contract agreed to by the management of Serious, according to the union. The union will continue to represent workers at the plant.


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