BofA sends offer to Chicago sit-in factory

Workers protested for five days after being laid off when the bank canceled the factory's line of credit.

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By Julianne Pepitone, contributing writer

The Republic Windows & Doors factory closed Dec. 5 after it maxed out its Bank of America financing.

NEW YORK ( -- Bank of America said Tuesday it is prepared to extend credit to a Chicago window and door maker whose laid-off workers staged a five-day "sit-in" after the factory closed.

All Republic Windows & Doors LLC workers were laid off when the factory closed Dec. 5. Some have participated in a sit-in to protest the shutdown.

The factory closed after Bank of America canceled its financing. The workers said the company notified them three days before the impending shutdown. Federal law requires either 60 days notice or 60 days pay for the laid-off workers.

Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500) spokeswoman Diane Wagner said Republic Windows & Doors LLC maxed out its financing, and the bank had been "working with Republic for quite some time."

In a statement, the Charlotte, N.C.-based bank said it sent a letter to the manufacturer indicating that it may provide a limited amount of additional loans to Republic.

Republic management chose not to pay its workers for severance, vacation, and other claims they are legally entitled to, Wagner added. "We're worried about the employees first, and we'll worry about ourselves after."

A representative from Republic was not able to comment.

National attention

The sit-in has received national attention, even from President-elect Barack Obama. Some see the protesters as a symbol for all laid-off workers: a group of people on hard times, fighting back to keep their jobs.

"But there are two sides to every story, and people need to see that," Wagner said. "We've been trying to work with management and the union, and we are offering to help them."

She stressed the letter did not represent a complete offer - rather, just like a loan, negotiations are necessary. "This would be an additional loan, and we are in the process of negotiating with management and the company," Wagner said.

Late Tuesday, Wagner said Bank of America was in the process of talking with Republic management and ownership. "We want to do the right thing for the employees," she said.

--CNN Wires contributed to this report. To top of page

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