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Goose Island Plant Occupation: Workers Occupy Chicago Factory In Desperate Move To Save Their Jobs

Goose Island Occupation

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 02/24/2012 9:33 am Updated: 02/24/2012 10:26 am

CHICAGO -- In 2008, more than 200 workers at Republic Windows & Doors organized a sit-in at their Chicago factory after being abruptly fired. The six-day protest attracted national attention, and the workers were featured in Michael Moore's film, "Capitalism: A Love Story."

As the Associated Press reports, the factory became a symbol of the plight of American workers -- and fired union members ultimately received $1.75 million in wages and benefits owed to them from Bank of America.

On Thursday night, the whole thing happened again.

Serious Energy Inc., which bought assets from Republic Windows and doors in 2009, informed workers on Thursday that the factory would be closing immediately. Instead of packing up their things and walking out, about 70 workers decided that they were not leaving without a fight. For about 11 hours, workers refused to leave the factory, demanding more time to either find someone to buy the plant or a way to run it themselves.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Serious Energy wants to close the Chicago factory and consolidate manufacturing at facilities in Colorado and Pennsylvania, eliminating about 46 union and nonunion positions, the AP reports.

"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.

But after the occupation, the company agreed to keep the plant open for 90 days.

“We can run this company,” Juan Cortez, who has worked in the factory for 23 years, told WBEZ. “We got smart people [to] manage the money. We can find customers. We know how to run the company.”

Vice President Joe Biden visited the reopened Chicago factory in 2009 as an example of economic reinvigoration thanks to the federal stimulus. At the time, Serious Energy had started rehiring some of the more than 200 laid-off workers to make energy-efficient windows at the plant.

In a statement emailed to The Huffington Post Friday, Serious Energy said the media received "incomplete and incorrect" information about the immediate factory closure, and that they are working with the union to "find a new owner if possible and explore all other options."

WATCH a scene of the 2008 sit-in from "Capitalism: A Love Story" here:


Capitalism: A Love Story "Republic Windows &... by Paramount_Australia
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