PI Original Josh Kalven Monday May 11th, 2009, 1:43pm

Hartmarx Workers Approve Potential Sit-In, Giannoulias Reaches Out To Other Treasurers

At their Des Plaines plant this morning, Hart Schaffner Marx workers voted unanimously to occupy the plant if the company's ongoing bankruptcy proceedings lead to liquidation.  "Are you with me?" Workers United local president Ruby Sims asked hundreds of her fellow ...

At their Des Plaines plant this morning, Hart Schaffner Marx workers voted unanimously to occupy the plant if the company's ongoing bankruptcy proceedings lead to liquidation.  "Are you with me?" Workers United local president Ruby Sims asked hundreds of her fellow Hartmarx employees, who rose to their feet in the packed factory cafeteria to endorse the plan.  The workers were joined by Rep. Phil Hare, State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, and numerous labor leaders.  Here is some video of Hare, who recalled working for 13 years as a Hartmarx cutter in Rock Island.  "Times are tough," he told the crowd, "but you are tougher."  Watch it:

Giannoulias told the audience that he had spoken to Wells Fargo this morning, as well as one of the three bidders on the company, who he described as "enthusiastic about keeping this company going."  Watch it:

Giannoulias also announced that he sent a letter to the state treasurers' in the four other states where Hartmarx has facilities -- Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York, and Alabama -- urging them to follow his lead if their states have any business with Wells Fargo.  Last week, Giannoulias told Wells Fargo CEO John Strumpf that he would terminate the state's financial relationship with the bank if Hartmarx ultimately ended up in liquidation.

There is apparently more action in the works this week, including a congressional letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and a hotline for other companies in distress.  We'll have updates as they come.

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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