Richard Gillman, the former chief executive of Republic Windows and Doors, has been arrested and charged with numerous financial crimes related to last December’s plant closing, including looting the company and defrauding creditors. The abrupt plant closing provoked a successful six-day plant occupation by members of UE Local 1110.
Gillman was charged with eight felony counts under Illinois law, including financial crime and conspiracy, money laundering, fraud insolvency, theft with intent to control more than $500,000, mail fraud and wire fraud.
Judge Peggy Chiampas set bond at $10 million, 20 times more than prosecutors had requested. When Gillman’s lawyer argued with the judge over the bail amount, the judge responded that she wanted to “make sure” that Gillman doesn’t go anywhere, and that he is a danger based on his alleged “damage both to the individuals and the company.”
Assistant State’s Attorney John Mahoney said in court that Gillman and the others conspired to launder company funds and removed 10 semi-trailers of manufacturing equipment from the plant. Three of the trailers ended up in Red Oak, IA, where Gillman started a new non-union window manufacturing to take over Republic’s work. The remaining seven trailers, stored on the South Side of Chicago, were seized by prosecutors.
A spokesperson for Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said that other Republic Windows officials are under investigation. New search warrants have been issued part of the investigation.
At a news conference State's Atty. Alvarez said that Gillman's abuse of workers magnified his other offenses: "...just two weeks before Christmas, in a dire economy, the company shut the doors of their business and deserted their workers and all of their families. ... That makes the selfish actions of Mr. Gillman and others at his company even more reprehensible."
In January UE filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board for failure to notify or negotiate with the union about plant closing and transfer of equipment.
In the wake of Gillman’s arrest, Armando Robles, president of the UE Local 1110 told the Chicago Tribune: “He treated us like garbage for long, long years. He threw us out in December without any benefits. We were waiting for this,” and added, “It’s wonderful.’’
The UE Western Region issued a media statement on the new developments: “Corruption and abuse of workers rights is rampant in corporate America. Very often where you see violations of workers rights there are other corporate crimes and poor conditions as well. Republic Windows and Doors is just one example of something that happens routinely to working people. UE members at Republic Windows and Doors organized and fought back against abuse and won.
“We hope to see justice served in this case, but we know that many other workers suffer and deserve justice as well. In part that can come about through labor law reform that would ensure, for the first time, penalties for violations of labor law and by aggressively holding corporations accountable when they violate our rights.”
The UE statement also quotes Local 1110 Vice President Melvin Maclin: “We feel like justice has finally come and we all hope that this is the beginning of more bosses being held accountable for their crimes against workers.”
Republic Windows workers peacefully occupied the plant for six days after the company suddenly closed the plant, threw 240 employees out of work, and refused to pay them vacation pay, severance and health insurance they were owed. Their action won them payment of the money they were owed and led to the reopening of the plant, under UE contract, by a new owner, Serious Materials, a maker of high-efficiency windows.