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Proviso Probe

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Bank of America screws 200 Chicago UEW members

What would you do if your employer closed shop without fulfilling his/her obligations under your contract?

Two hundred workers of Republic Windows and Doors faced this question Friday. See Associated Press (Rupa Shenoy), h/t Gapers Block (Rasmin Canon).

Gapers Block:
The United Electrical Workers at Republic Windows and Doors were notified on Wednesday that as of Friday, they were jobless. No severance. No vacation pay-out, as per their union contract. Nothing. Why? Because the business had plunged into dissolution, and Bank of America was instructing them not to honor their obligations.

Bank of America? Let me tell you my last interaction with B of A. My employer used Bank of America. I was in a hurry to cash my paycheck. I went to a local B of A branch. They wanted $5 to cash a check drawn on their bank.

I contacted Congressman Dan Lipinski (D-IL03), my representative in Congress. I wanted Lipinski to request a letter from the B of A CEO to explain how it's legal for Bank of America to charge a fee to cash a check on their bank.

Lipinski never responded to my request.

But back to the Republic Windows and Doors employees. Hopefully, they get some justice.

It seems unreasonable that U.S. law prioritizes debt to banks over obligations to employees, like paying for accrued vacation days.

A bank has mechanisms (and expertise) to track if a debtor is getting in trouble and can make decisions accordingly. Employees don't have any equivalent way to get information about the financial health of their employers.

Unless the United States changes the law that employers of over a dozen people need to make all their financial records available to employees, it seems obligations to employees should be prioritized over debt to banks.

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