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Occupying Factory Saves Jobs, Second Time in Three Years

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?

 

Related Stories:

Parents Occupy School to Prevent its Closure

Faculty Demands Hyatt Reinstate Fired Housekeepers

Under Pressure, Foxconn Agrees to Raise Wages, Cut Overtime

 

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Photo by Zol87

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54 comments

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8:00PM PDT on Mar 29, 2013

Whether it is with new corporate ownership (ideally enlightened!) or with employee ownership, I hope the transformation of this business is possible

2:49PM PST on Mar 7, 2012

Yes I love that!!! Beautiful.

2:28PM PST on Mar 7, 2012

BEAUTIFUL!

12:15PM PST on Mar 7, 2012

Outstanding news.

12:05PM PST on Mar 7, 2012

THANKS!

4:43PM PST on Mar 6, 2012

Great news. Thanks

4:43PM PST on Mar 6, 2012

Great news. Thanks

2:56PM PST on Mar 6, 2012

great news shame the rest of the world cant get jobs like that

8:06AM PST on Mar 6, 2012

I have mixed views on this. On the one hand, employee ownership would be a way to keep the plant going, and that has worked in some instances. At the same time, one has to ask why a new owner, who bought the business expecting to be profitable, has found that not to be the case. It would seem that some serious process improvement and changes in operating procedures are needed. Whether this can happen under the existing ownership or under an employee owned enterprise, or with an employee stock option plan implemented with the existing ownership, the need to make the enterprise profitable does not disappear.

7:23AM PST on Mar 6, 2012

I hope they can find a way to own the company themselves. There should be special loans available that support small businesses like this that manufacture needed goods to re-organize and keep going.

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