Occupying Factory Saves Jobs, Second Time in Three Years
Three years ago, more than 200 employees staged a sit-in at the Chicago-based Republic Windows and Doors factory after learning of the plant’s closure. They would not receive their last paychecks, benefits and lose their jobs just before Christmas. The occupation worked and weeks later, the factory was sold to a new company and kept the people working.
Fast forward to present day and the workers once again found themselves in a similar position. The new owners, Serious Energy, announced a consolidation of their operations by closing the Chicago factory. Roughly 65 workers decided to conduct round two in order to save their jobs.
My friend Micah Uetricht documented the latest occupation that took place last Thursday evening for Salon.com.
[Leah] Fried and workers Armando Robles and Vicente Rangel occasionally came to the door to speak to press and supporters about the progress being made in negotiations with the Serious CEO over the phone.
“We proposed that they give us time to find a buyer,” Fried said, “or even allow the workers to buy this plant and run it as a worker-owned enterprise.”
“We’re just asking for a little time to find a way to save these jobs,” said Rangel.
At 1 a.m. workers declared victory as they successfully negotiated with the company to stay open for another 90 days. Hopefully this will allow the company to find a buyer or to transition the factory into a worker-owned operation. According to the Occupied Chicago Tribune, the workers will touch base with “workers cooperative groups in New York and Argentina for guidance.”
Occupations like this are slowly gaining steam around the nation. Protesters are staging sit-ins at foreclosed homes, schools and now this factory again. Could it spur more of these direct actions?
Photo by Zol87