Workers lose their jobs, but they won't leave
Workers who got three days' notice that their factory was shutting its doors have occupied the building and say they won't go home without assurances they'll get severance and vacation pay. About 250 union workers occupied the Republic Windows and Doors plant in shifts yesterday while union leaders outside criticized a Wall Street bailout they say is leaving laborers behind. Leah Fried, an organizer with the United Electrical Workers, said the Chicago-based vinyl window manufacturer failed to give 60 days' notice required by law before shutting down. Fried said the company can't pay its 300 employees because its creditor, Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America, won't let them. In a memo to the union, obtained by the business journal, Republic CEO Rich Gillman said the company had "no choice but to shut our doors." Bank of America received $25 billion from the government's financial bailout package. The company said in a statement yesterday that it isn't responsible for Republic's financial obligations to its employees.
OPEC chief says expect deep production cuts
ALGIERS, Algeria: Oil markets should brace for a surprise decision on output cuts when OPEC meets Dec. 17, the cartel's president said yesterday, suggesting that reductions could be deeper than expected. "A consensus has formed for a significant reduction of production levels" by the 14-member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC President Chakib Khelil said in an interview. The OPEC leader would not discuss how deep the output cut would be, but he said it could be "severe" and noted that some analysts are predicting cuts of as much as 2 million barrels per day. Oil prices settled at a four-year low on Friday of $40.81 a barrel.
N. Korea warns Japan of snub at nuclear talks
SEOUL, South Korea: North Korea said yesterday it will ignore Japan at coming six-nation talks on its nuclear program, citing Tokyo's refusal to send aid to the impoverished country as part of a disarmament agreement. The warning comes as negotiators from six nations - the U.S., Russia, China, South Korea, Japan and North Korea - prepare to meet tomorrow in Beijing for talks that are expected to focus on how to verify Pyongyang's accounting of its nuclear program. North Korea has issued similar warnings in the past, but Tokyo has continued to attend the negotiations, which began in 2003.
Thai opposition sets new government plan
BANGKOK, Thailand: Thailand's main opposition party said yesterday it plans to form a new government with the help of defectors from the ruling coalition. The opposition Democrat Party announced it had mustered the backing of 260 lawmakers in the 400-seat lower house, allowing it to form a government with Abhisit Vejjajiva as the new prime minister. But the party's apparent triumph will not be sealed until Parliament meets within the next 30 days to endorse Abhisit and the five-party coalition behind him. The former ruling party said it would not give up the fight.