CHICAGO — Gov. Rod Blagojevich ordered all state agencies Monday to stop doing business with Bank of America to try to pressure the bank into helping laid-off workers staging a sit-in at their shuttered factory.
The governor wants the North Carolina-based bank to use some of its federal bailout money to resolve the protest by about 200 workers at Republic Windows and Doors.
The sit-in began Friday and has fast become a symbol of the sour economy's impact on labor. The workers have promised to remain inside the plant in shifts until they get assurances they will receive severance and vacation pay.
"We hope that this kind of leverage and pressure will encourage Bank of America to do the right thing for this business," Blagojevich said from outside the plant. "Take some of that federal tax money that they've received and invest it by providing the necessary credit to this company so these workers can keep their jobs."
Republic has not made a move to evict the workers since they began the sit-in Friday, the day they lost their jobs with just a few days' notice.
Their plight has drawn support from President-elect Barack Obama, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and others.
"We're going strong," Leah Fried, an organizer for the United Electrical Workers union, said earlier Monday. "We're not going anywhere until there's resolution." Fried said the company told the union that Bank of America canceled its financing.
Bank of America said Saturday it wasn't responsible for Republic's financial obligations to its employees.
A Bank of America spokesman said she could not comment, but that the company was preparing a response. Republic officials could not be reached for comment.