After a six-day sit-in and a battle for their severance pay, workers at Republic Windows and Doors are looking toward the future.
Workers met today with city and state representatives who helped them search for new jobs, unemployment assistance and social services.
More than 250 workers attended a similar workshop on Monday, looking for information on new jobs. The large crowd caused the union and city officials to schedule a second workshop this afternoon.
Workers say they're anxious to find new employment.
Raul Flores, 25, says it's been hard not going to work every day at Republic. His wife has found part time work for the time being, and Flores is staying home with their son.
"I've been learning to do the dishes and cook the meals," says Flores. "I miss my job and my friends and co-workers."
Flores said he just applied for a job yesterday with another window factory in the city. He heard about more opportunities today at the employment services workshop, including some openings for machine operators and assembly workers at a local plant through the Chicago Workforce Center for Manufacturing.
The Center works with city manufacturers to pair them with skilled applicants. Juanita Negrete, advanced lead coordinator for the Workforce Center for Manufacturing, says getting laid off is extremely stressful for workers and their families.
"They don't know where to go. They have unemployment, but then what?" says Negrete.
She says Republic's workers have the advantage of good skills, experience and work ethic, but it's important that they don't delay finding a new job.
"I express to them that they should apply for unemployment, but if you are ready to go back to work, you need to start now, especially with the way the economy is," says Negrete. "With the number of people being laid off, you are literally competing with thousands of people."
Union leaders are still waiting for the workers' checks from Bank of America for their vacation days and 60 days pay due under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. Armando Robles, president of local UE 1110, says the checks should arrive after 1 p.m. tomorrow. Leaders say each check will be about $6,000 per worker.
Besides their severance checks, workers have continued to get help from community organizations, including another delivery of turkeys, scheduled to be handed out on Monday.
"It's been moving smooth. We have been getting a lot of calls from different departments and universities," says Robles. “We have received a lot of support from the community."