Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich suspended all state business with Bank of America. (Photo: Getty Images)
Showing solidarity with workers staging a sit-in over unpaid wages at a dying Chicago factory, Illinois' governor Monday lashed out at the bank that cut off the firm's funding.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich told all state agencies to suspend business with Bank of America immediately.
He said some of the billions in bailout money the bank got from taxpayers to stay afloat should be used to pay the workers' severance and accrued vacation.
Bank of America, which does billions in business with Illinois, had no immediate comment.
Cheers erupted at the shuttered Republic Windows and Doors, factory where 200 workers have been holed up all weekend, after the governor's announcement.
The workers - many of whom have toiled for the company for years - have refused to leave until they get the parting package they were promised.
In refusing to budge, they have become national symbols for the thousands of other American workers who have been pink-slipped as the economy sours.
"We never expected this," said factory worker Melvin Maclin, vice president of the union local that represents the workers. "We expected to go to jail."
President-elect Barack Obama is on their side.
"When it comes to the situation here in Chicago with the workers who are asking for their benefits and payments they have earned, I think they are absolutely right," Obama said Sunday. "What's happening to them is reflective of what's happening across this economy."
The factory owners lowered the boom on their workers last Tuesday, telling them they would be out of work by the end of the week.
Leah Fried, an organizer for the United Electrical Workers, said the company told them Bank of America canceled its financing.
In a statement, the bank said it wasn't responsible for Republic's financial obligations to its employees. In recent weeks, the financial Goliath has earned a rep in as one of the Scroogiest banks in the land.
A Bronx pol recently blasted the bank for foreclosing on New Yorkers ahead of the holidays - and state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo warned bank officials to think twice about giving top honchos big end-of-year bonuses.