Workers demonstrate at West Side metal plant

Bob Maldonado and his coworkers marched in front of Fillip Metal Cabinet Co. on the city's West Side today hoping to secure severance pay amid concerns that the company will shut down.

Workers say the company told them three weeks ago that the factory would close this week. Some three dozen workers and family members chanted in front of the red brick building at 701 N. Albany Avenue.

Maldonado, who has worked at the plant for 27 years, emotionally thanked the supporters who participated in the rally.

"I was planning to retire here," he says.

Christ Fillip Jr., listed as the company's president on public records, declined to comment on the closing.

Teamsters Local 743 represents 15 Fillip employees. They have not yet been terminated, says Richard Berg, the local's president.

When the employees showed up yesterday, Berg says, they were told there was no work for them. They don't know whether they're supposed to show up for work tomorrow.

"The company is playing games with all of us," says Berg," "We're going to continue to press him to negotiate with us."

The Fillip workers were joined by employees of Republic Windows and Doors, who won national attention last year by staging a six-day sit-in when their company's Goose Island plant closed.

Enrique Mojica, who installed rails at Fillip for 3-1/2 years, doesn't know how he'll make ends meet for himself, his wife, and 4-year-old daughter Dana Mojica, who carried a sign larger than herself for most of the rally.

According to Berg, the company has not provided the union with information necessary to bargain on behalf of the employees. He said they plan on filing a charge with the National Labor Relations Board today.

"We have to stay united, there is nothing else we can do," says Eduardo Mesa, who has worked at the company as a packer for almost five years.

Staff Writer Fernando Diaz covers labor and unions for the Daily News. He can be reached at 773.362.5002, ext. 14.