CHICAGO - Workers laid off from their jobs at a factory have occupied the building and are demanding assurances that they will get severance and vacation pay that they say they are owed.

About 200 employees of Republic Windows and Doors began their sit-in Friday, the last scheduled day of the plant's operation.

Leah Fried, an organizer with the United Electrical Workers, said the Chicago-based window manufacturer failed to give the 60 days' notice required by law before shutting down.

Workers also were angered when company officials did not show up for a meeting Friday that had been arranged by U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a Chicago Democrat, she said.

During the peaceful takeover, workers have been shoveling snow and cleaning the building, Fried said.

"We're doing something we haven't since the 1930s, so we're trying to make it work," Fried said.

Union officials said another meeting with the company was scheduled for tomorrow.

Representatives of Republic Windows did not immediately respond yesterday to calls and e-mails seeking comment.

Police spokeswoman Laura Kubiak said that authorities were aware of the situation and that officers were patrolling the area.

Crain's Chicago Business reported that the company's monthly sales had fallen to $2.9 million from $4 million during the last month. In a memo to the union, obtained by the business journal, Republic chief executive officer Rich Gillman said the company had "no choice but to shut our doors."