The workers who occupied a windows factory in Chicago—first in 2008 (when it was Republic Windows & Doors), and then again earlier this year (when the factory was owned by Serious Energy)—have now formed their own worker-run cooperative: New Era Windows, LLC.
Armando Robles, president of the United Electrical Workers Local 1110, said that the school of struggle the workers went through with both factory occupations helped them win the confidence to take over their factory.
“We learned how to fight against the bosses and now to negotiate contracts with the owners of Republic and Serious Energy, how to negotiate in contract negotiations and how to make escalating actions before going on strike.” . . .
“When we found out nobody is going to buy the company we started this idea [to form a cooperative] and brought it in proactive,” said Robles. “We started having meetings about it.”
The next step for the workers, whose business in now incorporated with the State of Illinois, is to raise the investment money to start the cooperative and buy the machinery from their former employer.
Robles says they are working on getting the money together – about $2 million to purchase the machinery – and have already started building the structure of the cooperative: “we already have a steering committee, we have two treasurers. We will keep doing forward.”
They expect to start producing windows in two or three months, said Robles, and running their unionized cooperative.