Everyone owes me money...why? Just because.
CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) -- A weekend sit-in by laid-off workers at a Chicago window factory drew high-profile support from President-elect Barack Obama ahead of a Monday meeting between union leaders and the plant's major creditor.
Workers occupy the Republic Windows and Doors factory Saturday in Chicago, Illinois.
About 200 workers from the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America have conducted what they call a "peaceful occupation" of the Republic Windows and Doors plant since Friday when their abruptly announced layoffs were supposed to take effect.
The workers said Republic told them Bank of America had cut off credit to the company and gave them three days' notice that they were losing their jobs. Federal law requires either 60 days' notice or 60 days' pay for the laid-off workers.
"We had started to notice things, like machines, disappearing from the plant during the weekends under cover of darkness," UE member Melvin Maclin said.
"So we began asking questions, and management assured us everything was fine."
Company executives have not commented and did not take part in a Friday meeting between the union, Bank of America and U.S. Rep. Luis Guiterrez, D-Illinois. Another meeting between bank officials and the workers is scheduled for Monday afternoon.
Leading political figures in the Chicago area have turned out to support the sit-in -- including the former South Side state senator who was elected president last month.
"No. 1, I think that these workers, if they have earned these benefits and their pay, then these companies need to follow through on those commitments," Obama said during a news conference Sunday.
"And, No. 2, I think it is important for us to make sure that, moving forward, any economic plan that we put in place helps businesses to meet payroll so that we're not seeing these kinds of circumstances again."
Civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson delivered turkeys to the workers Sunday, and U.S. Jan Schakowsky, D-Illinois, said Republic needs to follow the law and provide the required pay and benefits to the workers.
"These are 300 jobs we ought to save, a product they make we ought to save, and we need to work out something better than just saying, 'Bye bye, workers.' That is not satisfying," Schakowsky said.
Bank of America says the company has walked away and ignored its obligation to the workers. But union leaders argue that since the bank received $25 billion in taxpayer funds as part of the U.S. Treasury's efforts to stabilize the financial markets, it should step in where the company has failed.
"These people would be out on the street three weeks before Christmas with nothing," national union representative Mark Meinster said. "But what's happened here is workers have decided to stand up and say no, enough is enough. You got that big bailout -- you can make sure we get the money we're owed and say, 'No, enough is enough.' "
In a statement over the weekend, Bank of America said Republic has faced "extreme financial hardship" and that it would soon decide how to proceed.
However, it added, "Neither Bank of America nor any other third-party lender to the company has the right to control whether the company complies with applicable laws or honors its commitments to its employees."