CBS Sides With Union In Chicago Factory Protest

Maggie Rodriguez, CBS At the top of Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith teased an upcoming story about a protest by laid off workers at a Chicago factory: "Fighting back, workers stage a protest after being laid off, refusing to leave their Chicago factory until their demands are met...We'll take you there live and hear what they're fighting for." Later, co-host Maggie Rodriguez interviewed Leah Fried of the United Electrical Workers and liberal Congressman Luis Gutierrez, no spokesman for the management of the company, Republic Windows and Doors, was featured.

Rodriguez found the real culprit:

RODRIGUEZ: The company says that it had to close because Bank of America canceled their line of credit. I take it you're not buying that?

FRIED: Oh, no. Bank of America definitely is -- is in charge here.

RODRIGUEZ: But I'm saying that you're not satisfied with that explanation?

FRIED: No, no -- well this is the same bank that got $25 billion in bailout funds, so I think we definitely need to hold them accountable for what they do to our economy and whether or not they're investing in jobs, whether or not they're keeping people employed. So we're -- we're fighting hard to make sure that Bank of America is held accountable for what they're doing and the workers feel very strongly that -- that they need to do the right thing here.

RODRIGUEZ: Bank of America says the company should be held accountable, not them, because this was not a good loan.

FRIED: Well, frankly, right now, what matters is that Bank of America owns millions of dollars worth of assets of this company and these workers are owed their vacation pay and if this factory continues to stay closed, then they're owed 60 days pay under the Warren Act, and, you know, that's just not right to throw people out on the street with nothing.

Rodriguez then turned to Congressman Gutierrez:

RODRIGUEZ: Representative Gutierrez, how will you get involved in this?

LUIS GUTIERREZ: We've organized a meeting today between the union representatives, the company, Bank of America, and my office, at 4:00 this afternoon. We want to end the finger-pointing. Whether it's the company or Bank of America, let's open up the books. The company has agreed to come and sign a release, a waiver, so that -- a confidentiality waiver, so we can look at the books and see where the money is at. Look, we -- you guys are reporting on what we did for the financial industry. $700 billion another $15 - $20 billion for the automobile industry. Who's standing up for workers? We think the federal government has to make sure that the Warren Act, which says that these workers are due 60 days of pay and health benefits, has to be enforced. Let's make sure the federal government does its job with these workers, not with just those on Wall Street, but those really, this is main street here. Let's make sure that we make sure that in the end, the federal government, the laws that are on the books to protect these workers, are respected.

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