Digital News Report- The Chicago workers’ sit-in shifted national attention to the plight of lad-off workers across the country. Millions of employees face layoffs, which could make them lose their healthcare benefits. The Republic Windows and Doors factory was closed abruptly last week shortly after Bank of America canceled the company’s financing. Aproximately 200 of the 240 laid-off workers have taken turns occupying the factory. They say they will not leave until getting assurances they will receive severance and accrued vacation pay.
According to Jack A. Raisner, a partner in the New York office of Outten & Golden LLP which represents employees throughout the nation in pending layoff-related litigation, “The Chicago sit-in should be a wake-up call to the 88 percent of employees nationally who are not union members and depend on their employers alone for their health coverage.” Raisner points to the dire medical crises facing hundreds of laid-off employees from Archway Cookies and Mother’s Cookies who were profiled last week in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times as proof of his point.
Big employers nationwide announced 181,671 layoffs in November, including GM laid off 30,000 workers. This brings the number of corporate pink slips issued so far this year to more than a million, About half of the job cuts announced last month occurred in the financial sector, where Citigroup alone said it would eliminate 50,000 jobs.
“In a sense,” Raisner says, “the Chicago employees are the lucky ones. When most of the rest of us lose our jobs in a company shut down or bankruptcy, we don’t have a safety net of a union to turn to when it comes to health insurance. That’s the situation for thousands of employees of bankrupt companies such as Archway and Mother’s Cookies, national car dealer Bill Heard Enterprises, and trucking company Jevic Transportation. Millions more may be stricken by the combination of job and insurance loss as bankruptcies and layoffs soar.”