Serious Energy Workers Occupy Goose Island Factory

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Members of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America who work at a Chicago factory are occupying their workplace after the company that runs the factory, Serious Energy, informed them that the factory would be closed and all workers would be laid off. The Goose Island plant is notable as the same location where a previous occupation took place when the former owners, Republic Windows & Doors, was the target of a successful and highly publicized labor action in 2008.

"Ongoing economic challenges in construction and building products, collapse in demand for window products, difficulty in obtaining favorable lease terms, high leasing and utility costs and taxes, and a
range of other factors unrelated to labor costs, have compelled Serious to cease production at the Chicago facility," the company said in a statement.

The displaced workers are asking that they be given time to try to raise the money to buy the factory or help find another buyer. UE representatives said that Serious Energy never followed through on promises when it bought the plant to hire back the workers that were previously fired by Republic Windows. Now the California-based company is taking away all of the remaining jobs at Goose Island and limiting its production to factories in Pennsylvania and Colorado.

Update: Looks like the workers have won this battle:

At 1 a.m., a tentative agreement was reached that met all of the workers’ concerns. The plant will remain open, making windows, for 90 days. That’s in writing.

Serious is committed to finding new ownership. Local union leaders are also interested in the possibility of a worker-run enterprise and are talking with consultants who specialize in converting factories to co-ops.

Serious said it had never been able to get a foothold in Chicago and Midwest markets. Workers for years had offered help and suggestions, to no avail.

“We started the morning with the plant closing and ended the day with work and a chance to save our jobs,” said Robles. “We are committed to finding a new buyer for the plant or if we can, buy the place ourselves and run it. Either way, we are hopeful.”


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