Wells Fargo is under fire again. This time, members of United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers (UE) Local 1174, want the bank to keep their Moline, Ill., Quad City Die Casting plant open. The bank is refusing to extend credit to the 60-year-old business.
The plant is a manufacturer of metal die cast products and like many small companies needs credit for day-to-day operations. But the workers and their union claim Wells Fargo, which received $25 billion in federal bailout funds, is now refusing to bail them out. The viable employer is likely to be liquidated.
The plant, expected to close July 12, would put over 100 people out of work. Nearly 80 production and maintenance workers there are members of UE.
“Small businesses need credit to keep going during these though times,” said UE Local 1174 President Keith Scribner in a press release. Scribner, a die cast technician at the plant added, “Wells Fargo got bailed out with billions of taxpayer dollars and we demand that the bank not sell us out.”
Workers and their union are putting pressure on the bank to keep their plant open until a new buyer can be found in order to keep the company running.
Deborah Johann works at the plant. “They say the banks are too big to fail, but what about us,” she said. “Aren’t our families too important to fail?”
The workers picketed outside the banks corporate offices in Davenport, Iowa earlier this week and a delegation was sent in demanding a meeting with bank officials. The small delegation of workers delivered a letter and met privately with the bank’s management.
“They don’t want to meet with us,” said Tim Curtin, an international representative with UE to reporters on the way out. “They told us to go back and talk to the owner – who doesn’t have the money.”
Leah Fried, organizer with UE said Wells Fargo is not off the hook.
“We’re going to hold them accountable for the bailout money they got from us and insist that they extend credit and keep jobs in our community,” said Fried to WQAD-TV.
Fried said the workers believe their company should be saved due to their history.
“They have a future of being profitable, they were profitable just a few short months ago and can be profitable again,” said Fried.
Working families nationwide are living in a time in which jobs are scarce, business is down and unemployment is up. And if banks and financial institutions think they can put people out of work they have another thing coming, critics charge.
The members of Local 1174 in Moline have been inspired in their fight in large part due to UE Local 1110 in Chicago. The Chicago workers occupied the Republic Windows and Doors factory for six days in December after Bank of America cut off credit and forced the plant to close. The Republic workers eventually won a settlement with the bank and a new owner is in the process of keeping the factory open. All Republic workers are expected to be re-hired represented by their union.
Wells Fargo is also under fire facing pressure from over 600 workers at the Hartmarx Corp. clothing manufacturing plant in Des Plaines, Ill. Workers United, an affiliate with the Service Employees International Union, represents the workers there. In that situation the bank is in the process of selling the company to a buyer that plans to liquidate the business and put all of its employees out of work. That struggle is ongoing.
Wheather in Moline or Des Plaines, Ill. workers and their unions are not going down without a fight and plan on fighting Wells Fargo to the bitter end. Their future depends on it and their jobs are worth saving, they say.