Posted by: Patrick Barbanes | December 11, 2008

Republic Windows Workers: It’s Over!

Came in after I fell asleep on the couch:
http://www.ueunion.org/uenewsupdates.html?news=438

http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/12/10/illinois.labor.protest/index.html

I’m going to put my head down on a real pillow, and sleep really well! More in the (later) morning. Congratulations and huge kudos to the workers!!!

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Responses

  1. I understand the purpose of the wall street bailout was to loosen credit. But do we really want to loosen credit for failing companies? What good is it to extend funds to an already bankrupt firm? Isn’t that what got us into this mess, that is, lending money to people who couldn’t possibly pay it back?

    Alternative Analysis through looking at the Dicta.

  2. BT, I don’t think anyone’s arguing that BofA or anyone else for that matter should be extending funds to an already bankrupt firm…under normal circumstances. But Republic’s case is not a normal one.

    Provisions should have been made by Republic Windows to have the funds necessary to pay the workers what the workers were owed. It sounds like they didn’t do that, AND that BofA was partly complicit in that, by rejecting Republics’s request for an extension of credit to cover those funds (if you can believe Republic’s published timeline, that is).

    You’re not proposing that the workers just leave without getting what they’re owed, are you?

    BofA extends the credit, now Republic has the funds to pay the workers, and Republic must now – somehow – pay the loan back. That’s business. And that’s the law.

    And again, Republic was somehow able to secure funds to start up Echo Windows and buy a window division and factory from Traco, all while claiming they didn’t have funds to pay the Republic workers because BofA wouldn’t extend their credit.

    So, the workers are caught between a rock and hard place, while Republic goes off and funds another start-up company.

    The only viable option to pay the workers what they’re owed was for BofA to loan the money to Republic. What other option would you propose?

    And by the way, if I worked for Echo Windows, I’d be especially wary of who my new management is – and of which end of the stick I’m going to get if Echo doesn’t succeed, as well. The Gilman’s (owners of Republic and now Echo) do not seem to play by the rules.

  3. ProudOldLefty,

    Thank you for you comments and questions. While I doubt I agree with you on anything, I appreciate the willingness to discuss these issues. To answer your question, there are alternative solutions that are better from either perspective, the best one I can think of empowers the Union without inflexible government legislation.

    The difficulty with “normal” is that it is extremely relative.

    Please see the newest addition to the Dicta as detailing these solutions was way too long for a comment box.

  4. BT – Part of a blog, I hope, is not to just preach to the choir, but actually engage some dialogue. (And as an aside, which is why I wonder why so many blogs and sites require registration just to post a comment. Turns me off.)

    Anyway, I have read your post at Dicta, and you bring up lots to discuss. So I understand why your comment would have been so lengthy.

    But what I was also looking for was just a simple answer to a rather short question that many commenters of the “we can’t be making more bad loans” persuasion don’t seem to offer: for these particular workers, in their particular situation, where was the money they are owed to come from? Or do you expect them to go home empty-handed?

  5. BT answered my question. But, alas, it was a heart-breaker. To paraphrase, BT said that the workers should NOT receive their due, because doing so would mean that BofA would have to make another “bad” loan. So…the workers wouldn’t get the money they are owed? No. BT wrote, “Sometimes, when things go wrong, people are affected inequitably. These workers have the traditional avenues of unemployment claims and an established Union to rely on during their time of difficulty. In this sense, I don’t think they are leaving empty handed though they are certainly leaving with less than they deserve. It is unfortunate and we should learn from it.”

    I was dismayed. I told BT that “You won’t take kindly to this, and will see it as an insult, but what you say reminds me of an early scene in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (and I highly recommend the George C. Scott version):

    “At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and Destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”

    “Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge.

    “Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

    “And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”

    “They are. Still,” returned the gentleman, “I wish I could say they were not.”

    “The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?” said Scrooge.

    “Both very busy, sir.”

    “Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Scrooge. “I’m very glad to hear it.”

    “Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,” returned the gentleman, “a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?”

    “Nothing!” Scrooge replied.

    “You wish to be anonymous?”

    “I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge. “Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned — they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there.”

    Merry Christmas, BT.

    Sincerely, ProudOldLefty

    BT’s blog can be found here: http://itsalldicta.blogspot.com

  6. It’s true. I think that because Union workers have depended upon government intervention to solve their problems they should be left to the safety-nets that government has provided them (unemployment claims and Union benefits). If that makes me a Scrooge – a label I would dispute – so be it.

    I should be clear here… I’m not defending the corporation, I am defending the banks. (The bit about the corporation quoted was my rant about the WARN acts dubious policy goals).

    What incentive do Corporations have to play nice? What incentive are we giving banks to make responsible decisions if they will simply be criticized for them? Public policy is a theory of incentives, and the way this situation worked out the one party acting responsibly – the bank (for a change) – will get screwed over. The corporation acted absurdly. The Union failed to do their job. However, both of these parties benefit (through bankruptcy and recoupment respectively). What incentive are we offering to be responsible?

    The alternative solution? The alternative solution involves hindsight (which is always 20/20), but rather than relying on government, the Union should have secured their future benefit through private agreement with the bank and Republic Window. This solution is explained in the post.


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