Resurrection of the Republic (Windows and Doors factory)

Louis Mattei

The Republic Windows and Doors factory, which made national headlines last December when more than 200 of its union employees occupied their workplace for six days to protest its abrupt and illegal closing (read David Moberg's full In These Times story here), is once again showing signs of life.On Monday, Vice President Joe Biden visited the facility on Goose Island in Chicago and touted its new owners – California-based Serious Materials – as makers of "the most energy-efficient windows in the world." Bravado aside, Serious acquired Republic's assets in February and reached an agreement with UE Local 1110, which represents the factory's employees, to rehire all former Republic workers at their same rate of pay, according to a statement from the UE. About a dozen rehired Republic employees were on hand for Biden's visit.(All that isn't too good to be true. But Mike Elk over at The Seminal grills Serious CEO Kevin Surace on why his company didn't recognize a union at a recent, less-famous window factory re-opening in Vandergrift, Pa.)For now, there's only a skeleton crew working at the factory, preparing it to re-open after Republic attempted to gut the building in February in order to equip a new Iowa factory for Echo Windows, the now-defunct company set up by former Republic owner Richard Gilman in the wake of Republic's bankruptcy.Serious says the plant should be ready to formally re-open within 60 days, but Chuck Wetmore, director of operations for Serious, told USGNN.com here that the factory could be ready to fill orders within a week.Biden and Serious officials credit President Obama's stimulus package with allowing the company to expand in a tight economy. The plan allocates $8 billion for retrofitting government buildings with energy-efficient materials and gives citizens tax credits for investing in green home improvements.Carl Rosen, President of UE Western Region said, “The former Republic Windows and Doors shows that simply relying on market forces and unregulated banks and corporations cannot provide an economy that works for the American people.”Pepe Lozano at People's Weekly World has the full story here.

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