At the dawn of the Great Recession in December 2008, the union workers of Chicago company Republic Windows and Doors occupied their closing workplace for six days to demand legally-owed severance. Labor activists everywhere were inspired, and some would say the Republic victory helped inspire the Occupy Movement. The workers beat bailout-lavished Bank of America, and when their factory was purchased by green company Serious Materials who respected the union contract and promised to hire back all the workers, everyone thought that was the end of the story.
But on February 23, 2012, Serious announced it would close the factory the very next day. The workers, all of whom had been a part of the first occupation, again seized their factory, refusing to leave. During one night of high tension, they held fast to the idea that Chicago needs manufacturing jobs, and these would not be surrendered. They pointed out that they had been trying to help the company find its footing in the Chicago market, but that help was ignored. And so, they demanded time to find new partners or owners at the glass factory.
Thanks in part to the lightning-fast display of solidarity from Chicago labor activists and Occupy Chicago, the company relented. The workers and their union U.E. won a 90 day stay to the closure, during which time the company and the union will work to find either a new buyer for the plant, or discover a way to turn the factory into a worker-run co-op (U.E. has initiated talks with The Working World, an organization that starts and maintains just such co-ops).
Here in this video, Labor Beat producer Andrew Friend showcases their one-day occupation through on-site interviews with Serious Energy workers, their union organizers, and the activists who stood in the rain to show their gratitude for the continuing inspirational victories coming from this little factory on Goose Island. (run time 11:28)