Tues., June 23: To fight plant closing, UE targets Wells Fargo. Join Us!
Posted by raleighfist on June 22, 2009
In the latest face-off in the growing struggle between workers and banks, more than 100 workers at Quad City Die Casting in Moline, Ill., are now being told that their plant will close on July 12 if Wells Fargo does not extend the company’s loan. These workers are members of United Electrical Workers Local 1174.
Wells Fargo has received more than $25 billion in federal bailout money through the Troubled Assets Relief Program. As mass anger grows against the banks, which have now received more than $10 trillion from the government, workers are still being thrown out of their jobs and homes.
Union calls day of action June 23
UE is calling for a national day of action on Tuesday, June 23 to bring pressure on Wells Fargo and Wachovia—which Wells Fargo recently acquired—to extend the loan to keep the Quad City Die Casting plant open.
The union plans actions in front of Wells Fargo and Wachovia offices in cities across the country including Atlanta; Baltimore; Boston; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Charleston, W. Va.; Chicago; Denver; La Crosse, Wis.; New Haven, Conn.; Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Erie, Pa. Also, protests are planned for Portland, Ore.; Raleigh, N.C.; Washington, D.C.; Salt Lake City and in Southern California. For more information about these demonstrations, see http://www.ueillinois.org.
At the same Web site, UE organizer Leah Fried writes: “Quad City Die Casting has been in business for 60 years, making precision metal parts farm and recreation equipment. Its customers include Kawasaki Motors and Case New Holland. Like many businesses, QCDC has seen a drop in orders recently, but it has not lost any customers.
“The company was profitable before the worst of the economic crisis hit last fall, and there’s no reason to believe that it would not return to profitability in a general economic recovery. During a recession like this, access to credit is essential for small businesses to weather the storm. But Wells Fargo, despite its long-term financial relationship with QCDC that includes managing the workers’ pension, pulled the plug. This has left workers wondering what the purpose of the TARP bailout was in the first place.”
Workers rally in Chicago
Fried reports that on June 11, hundreds of workers from several local unions and community supporters rallied outside of a Wells Fargo office building in Chicago to put pressure on the company.
Debbie Johann, who has worked for 31 years at Quad City Die Casting, and is a member of UE Local 1174, spoke to the crowd. She said, “We just want Wells Fargo to help us out and extend credit and keep the plant open. … It is a hundred jobs. People are going to lose their homes, lose their cars. What do they want us to do, live in a cardboard box?”
UE members are demanding that Wells Fargo extend loans to QCDC until another financer or a new buyer can intervene. Their UE sisters and brothers in Chicago who occupied the Republic Windows and Doors factory last December have inspired them.
Before the Republic struggle erupted, Bank of America had refused to extend loans to keep the plant open. Once the UE Local 1110 members at Republic took bold action to occupy the plant for six days and galvanized international support behind their struggle, the bankers were forced to negotiate a settlement with the workers.
The former Republic plant has reopened with a new owner: Serious Materials. The company has recognized UE Local 1110 and has negotiated its first contract which requires the owners to bring back these workers as their sales increase. Several workers have already returned to work and more are to return soon.
UE Local 1110 Vice President Melvin Macklin told Workers World that, “Just like we called on Bank of America to be responsible, the Quad City Die Casting workers are calling on Wells Fargo. This is the same fight.”
Macklin continued: “Wells Fargo has been behind a lot of stuff lately, even the Hartmarx suit company closing in Chicago. Another company wanted to purchase the Hartmarx facility to keep them in business but Wells Fargo decided to liquidate that company and go with a lower bidder.
“This does not make sense especially since they received bailout money. They are choosing not to help. This is hundreds of jobs, representing hundreds of families that could be saved.”
Wells Fargo is also being held responsible for racist lending policies in Baltimore, where many African Americans were targeted for high-interest subprime mortgage loans. The city of Baltimore is suing Wells Fargo for targeting African-American and poor homeowners with their predatory loans, which caused a very high rate of foreclosures and vacant properties in Black communities.