In Illinois, Another Workers' Rebellion Flares Up Against 'Banksters' Greed
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"I was in shock," said Deb Johann, 53, who has worked at the factory for 31 years. "People were calling each other saying, ‘What the hell!' Now we have orders piling up because our customers are stockpiling."
In fact, the closing date was delayed until late August, because of all the orders. Workers and union officials think Wells Fargo is taking the easy way out, opting for quick money through liquidation rather than extending enough credit to allow the company to find new investors.
Fried said the company was profitable as recently as last fall. The company makes aluminum, zinc and other metal parts for farm machinery, cars and other vehicles, and could perhaps ride the green jobs wave by making parts for wind turbines, she said.
"Orders were dropping just because demand is down right now, but their customers weren't going anywhere," Fried said. "This company certainly could be around another 60 years, given the chance. The problem here is that Wells Fargo is calling the shots, and they're making it impossible for the company to continue by pulling the financing rather than allowing them to look for new investors.
"We're talking tens of thousands, not even millions of dollars, on a monthly basis. That's nothing to Wells Fargo; it could be done."
A closing would mean about 100 workers would lose jobs many had held for decades (about 80 are members of UE Local 1174). The union estimates the closing would also mean $6.1 million lost annually in wages and tax revenue.
"It affects the whole community," said Johann, noting that other major employers in the Quad Cities, including John Deere and Alcoa, have made major layoffs. "American people want to know what these banks did with the bailout money. They should be using it to help small businesses like Quad City Die Casting stay alive."
Quad City Die Casting's parent company, QuadCast Inc., has operations in three locations, including Red Oak, Iowa, coincidentally the same town where Republic Windows owner Richard Gillman acquired, and then abruptly closed, another window-and-door factory, after secretly moving Republic Windows' equipment there.
Quad City Die Casting employees have expressed sympathy for company owner Drew Debrey, whose father, Andrew, founded the company in 1949. They blame the bank for the impending liquidation.
On July 30, UE leaders from several locals nationwide delivered a 2-inch-tall stack of petitions in support of Quad City workers to Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, and Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., who chairs the House Financial Services Committee.
Wells Fargo will be among the primary targets of a week of nationwide events starting Sept. 24 and highlighting what they are calling the "bailout bandits," around the one-year anniversary of TARP, the Troubled-Assets Relief Program.
Wells Fargo is one of the country's 30 largest employers and one of its largest financial-services companies, according to the company's Web site, with a stock market value of $100 billion.
Wells Fargo executives vehemently protested the terms of TARP bailout funds, and then decried the government's stress tests, with bank Chairman Richard Kovacevich calling them "asinine."
In June, it was announced that Wells Fargo was not among the 10 major banks repaying TARP funds, largely because of its takeover of troubled bank Wachovia, which made it the country's largest banking branch network. Wells Fargo needs to raise more buffer capital and issue more debt without government backing to prove it is ready to pay back TARP funds, under the program's terms.
Industry pundits describe Wells Fargo as uncooperative with federal banking regulators. Last week, Wells Fargo drew heat for skirting TARP regulations against increasing executive pay. The bank gave top executives millions of dollars worth of company stock, which they can sell once the TARP funds are repaid.