PI Original Josh Kalven Wednesday May 20th, 2009, 2:12pm

Workers Rally In Support Of New Hartmarx Bid

Today brought the news that London-based private equity firm Emerisque has submitted a new bid to take over Hartmarx, Inc. (you can catch up on the full story here).  The Tribune offers some details:

The private equity firm has made the highest bid to date for the
...

Today brought the news that London-based private equity firm Emerisque has submitted a new bid to take over Hartmarx, Inc. (you can catch up on the full story here).  The Tribune offers some details:

The private equity firm has made the highest bid to date for the Chicago company, offering creditors roughly 80 cents on the dollar, according to a source familiar with negotiations. [...]

"Our position is this is a great bid," said Bob Ginsburg, a labor consultant to Workers United and the Service Employees International Union. "We think Wells Fargo should let this process continue."

At a rally this morning with Hartmarx factory workers in Des Plaines, Workers United midwest treasurer Joe Costigan echoed that sentiment, urging creditor Wells Fargo -- which is still rumored to favor liquidation -- to support the Emerisque bid.  "We're heartened by the positive news today," he said. "But we're also circumspect because we don't believe that the banks have changed their irrational and malicious push to liquidate the company.  So we're going to fight on."

The workers were joined by Cook County Clerk David Orr, who told the crowd: "Are we asking for a bailout? No. Are we asking for a handout? No. We're asking for fairness by letting the process continue. "  Watch it:

Gov. Pat Quinn also released a statement on the Hartmarx situation:

"There's no time to waste. I strongly urge Wells Fargo to enter a deal to sell this company and save these important jobs," Quinn said. "U.S. taxpayers are investing billions of their tax dollars to rescue the country's banking system, including Wells Fargo. It's only right and just that this bank do everything in its power to make an agreement now that will ultimately benefit the lender, Illinois workers and the entire country."

At today's rally, several workers also came forth with copies of the mortgage bills they pay monthly to Wells Fargo (see photo below).  Karen Kinney, president of Workers United Local 617, traveled from a separate factory in Rock Island to attend.  She too has a home loan with Wells Fargo and likened the situation to "a one-two punch: Here's your loan, now you don't have a job."  She added, "I don't know what their line of thinking is on that."

The Emerisque bid apparently expires in the next 24 hours and Costigan emphasized that Workers United is launching an all-hands-on-deck effort, enlisting support from Quinn, State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, and Reps. Jan Schakowsky and Phil Hare.  We should have more details later this afternoon.

Full disclosure: Workers United is an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union.  The SEIU Illinois State Council sponsors this website.

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