Just prior to the bombshell arrest of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, the big story out of Chicago was the sudden closure of Republic Window and Door Company and its failure to pay proper employment separation funds.
Your Commander has been following this story closely from the beginning, and I have many questions surrounding this situation. It is my opinion that the press has failed again to report the full story, and instead went directly for the sensational aspects to generate maximum readership or ratings for their radio or televisions stations and networks. In lock step with the media, the politicians jumped on the bandwagon to maximize their media/publicity exposure, too.
The first unaddressed question is why did Republic Window and Door Company close their doors so suddenly? Apparently the company was in financial difficulties, and this caused their bank to not extend a further line of credit. That situation has not been addressed in any of the media reports that I have seen.
Not one reporter has talked with Bank of America to ascertain their side of the story, and equally vital to the authenticity of the reporting is the lack of any information emanating from the ownership or leadership of Republic Window and Door Company.
Clearly Republic violated the law in closing the business without notifying its employees of the plan sixty days in advance. Additionally, the Company further violated its contract with the Electrical Workers Union in not paying back pay, accrued vacation pay, appropriate health benefits, or appropriate severance pay to the workers. Then there is the question surrounding the fact that the Company received tax abatements and grants from governments, which they may be obligated to repay.
The press jumped on the story in total support of the Union’s position, the politicians jumped into the fray to garner publicity, and Bank of America was immediately smeared as the bad guy because they apparently saw an increase in Republic’s line of credit as a bad loan. Since the full story has not been reported, I suspect that someone at Bank of America will lose their job for not anticipating the publicity fallout. Was this really all the fault of Bank of America?
Don’t you find it interesting that already tainted Governor Rod Blagojevich had the gall to stand before the assembled media and berate the U.S. Attorney for reportedly listening in to his conversations via wire taps? I wonder if the Governor’s arrogant actions caused the Federal authorities to arrest him the next morning. It appeared to me to be a misguided order, too, for Blagojevich to demand that all Illinois State departments immediately cease business with the Bank of America. That order was pure grandstanding, and clearly represented his effort to kiss the hands of the Unions and their members.
I also found it interesting to see other political figures mugging for the reporters and television cameras before all of the facts were known. This action represented typical political grandstanding and opportunistic theatre.
Now Bank of America has granted an additional $1.75 million dollar line of credit that will permit Republic to pay the fired employees all the money due. I think the Bank was forced into loaning the money because the bad publicity they were getting was far more damaging than the possible loss of the $1.75 million. The Governor’s blackmail won out, but he got arrested in the end.
I am glad the fired workers will be receiving their full due compensation. A tragic sidebar to this story is that the INS may now check into the legal status of the fired workers, and that could be big trouble for Republic Window. If that is the case, some further good will result from the rule of law.
The next chapter of this story is already unfolding with two hundred union protesters now demonstrating outside the main Chicago offices of Bank of America. This is reminiscent of the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s blackmail/extortion tactics so well documented in Kenneth R. Timmerman’s expose “Shakedown”. Union spokesmen now report that they are so pleased with their victory that they plan to expand their sit in protests nationwide. Objective analysis should question whether or not the guilty party is really the ownership of Republic Window, and not Bank of America. Remember the government bail out money was never intended to be paid to support poorly operated companies.
Several questions remain unanswered, but I suspect the media is so involved in the far more sensational Blagojevich story that we’ll never learn the full Republic Window story. If we cannot get full disclosure on a story surrounding 200 terminated workers how can we expect to get complete objective information on the appalling Blagojevich tale? Politics in Illinois has a tainted history with four governors in recent years convicted of criminal behavior. In Chicago, the democrat machine rules with a heavy hand and corruption and graft runs rampant. Right now many Illinois politicians are running for cover and in the process I expect they will turn on each other to escape the hands of justice.