Former workers of Republic Windows and Doors, which closed in
2008, have opened a window factory of their own, New Era
Window Cooperative, in the Little Village neighborhood.
Chicago-based Republic Windows and Doors abruptly closed, more than 200
workers of United Electrical Workers Local 1110 were given just 72 hours' notice. The workers revolted and staged a historic sit-in
at the Goose Island factory, rallying against the closing and the company's attempt
to withhold employees' pay and benefits. (See some of our past coverage of the saga here and here. Click here to see all of our Republic Windows-related reports.)
The demonstration eventually led to a
$1.75 million settlement for the workers. Another company, Serious
Materials, later purchased the factory. But it shut down in February 2012.
Eighteen former Republic Windows workers decided to form a cooperative after the two shut downs and now jointly
own New Era Windows. They were able to get their own factory started
thanks in part to a line of credit from the
non-profit The Working World. The cooperative also received help from The United Electrical Workers' Union and the Center for Workplace Democracy.
The new factory is located at at 2600 W. 35th St., which is the site of the the former Campbell's Soup factory.
far, the new company has about five customers ready to do business. And
the Little Village Chamber of Commerce president says it may be possible for community improvement funds to be used to
upgrade the windows of businesses in the area and hire New Era Windows for the
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle was at the factory's grand opening yesterday. She says the cooperative could pave the way for other displaced and disenfranchised workers.
after the plant closed for a second time, the workers didn't give up,"
Preckwinkle said. "I'm sure that others will try to employ the model
that you've started."