A 12-hour occupation by workers at a Chicago factory on February 23 won an agreement that will save workers’ jobs for at least three months so they can seek other ways to keep their plant open and producing.
The factory on the northwest side of the city is the former Republic Windows & Doors plant, where union members occupied for a week in December 2008 after the previous owners and their financial backers, Bank of America, announced without warning that the factory was closing.
That struggle electrified the local and national labor movement, causing an outpouring of solidarity that stunned the bosses and bankers. After six days of the occupation, management caved. A new owner who promised to continue operations took over, and the Republic factory became Serious Energy.
On Thursday afternoon, the same workers whose courage three years ago inspired people around the country again heard that the next day would be their last day of work. They again turned to the tactic of the great labor struggles of the 1930s and occupied the factory.
But this time, they won a concession that saves their jobs for now before the dawn of the next day. Around 2 a.m.—with snow flurries starting to fall that brought back memories of the 2008 occupation—the 60 members of United Electrical Workers (UE) Local 1110 who remained inside the plant proudly marched out, fists held high, after an agreement was reached.
UE Local 1110 President Armando Robles, who led the 2008 occupation, told the crowd of supporters who assembled as soon as they heard about the new takeover: “We got more than we expected. Now we have 90 days to work and try to get somebody else to buy the company, with the possibility of the workers run it under our own banner.”
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