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Working In These Times

Thursday, Sep 10, 2009, 4:17 pm

Former Republic Windows and Doors President Goes to Jail

BY Jeremy Gantz

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Richard Gillman, president of the now-defunct Republic Windows and Doors company.   (Photo from

Remember Richard Gillman?

Last December, the former president of Republic Windows and Doors factory was thrust into the national media spotlight after more than 250 unionized workers at the Chicago plant occupied their workplace to demand the severance pay, benefits and back pay owed them by law.

Gillman was arrested at his condo in Chicago Wednesday morning and charged with felony theft and money laundering, among other things. He is accused of stealing manufacturing equipment from the Goose Island plant to open a non-union factory in Iowa. A judge has set Gillman's bond at $10 million, an amount he's unlikely to post—meaning he'll remain in jail. (Gillman is appealing the bond amount, the AP reported.

Progress Illinois reports:

In a bond hearing this morning, prosecutors testified that Gillman, along with other company officials, absconded with 10 semi-trailers full of equipment and conspired to launder company money through shell corporations to avoid paying out its creditors, which include JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, and General Electric. The charges against Gillman include mail fraud, money laundering, organizing and continuing a financial crime enterprise, and felony theft charges.

Last December, after Gillman gave Republic employees—members of United Electrical (UE) Workers Local 1100—three days notice before closing the Chicago factory, UE representatives claimed Gillman violated various labor laws. They were right: Under Illinois law, companies must give their employees 75 days notice of layoffs.

Workers took over the factory after Gillman said he couldn't pay workers more than $1 million, in part because Bank of America refused to extend credit to keep the factory open. Remarkably, the conflict ended happily for workers after bailout-recipient Bank of America and other creditors extended financing to the company, which sold the Chicago factory to a California company named Serious Materials this spring, as Working In These Times has reported.

From the very beginning of the conflict last December, UE representatives alleged that Republic violated law by removing machinery from the plant as it closed. Indeed, just as he announced the closing of the Chicago factory, Gillman was establishing a separate business, Echo Windows & Doors, LLC., and planning to relocate Republic production to a nonunion plant in Iowa. (For the full story, read this David Moberg story from December.)

As Chi-Town Daily News reported today:

Court records say Gillman established a separate business, Echo Windows & Doors, LLC.

Echo "received manufacturing equipment transported within three semi-trailers belonging to Republic Windows & Doors, LLC, without the approval of the board of directors and the creditors," documents say.

There is evidence that "the arrestee committed acts including organizing, supervising and participating in a conspiracy to conceal and obtain collateral belonging to Republic Windows & Doors, LLC," the court records say.

All of this confirms what Republic workers suspected all along. "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," Melvin Maclin, Vice-President of UE Local 1110 and a former Republic Windows and Doors worker, said today.

UE Local 1110 President Armando Robles also avoided gloating—it's not often oppressed workers get to see their boss go to jail: "We knew Gillman was lying to us for a long time, now the rest of the world knows it too," Robles said today. "Workers suffer with bad bosses all the time so this is a victory for all workers."

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Jeremy Gantz is a contributing editor at the magazine. He is the editor of The Age of Inequality: Corporate America's War on Working People (2017, Verso), and was the Web/Associate Editor of In These Times from 2008 to 2012. A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, he worked as a reporter for The Cambodia Daily in 2007. After graduating from Carleton College in 2004, he lived in Sri Lanka on a Fulbright scholarship, studying the intersection of ethnic politics and public education. His articles have also appeared in Chicago-area newspapers, Alternet and the Onion’s A.V. Club.

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