From Sitting In to Taking Over: A Worker-Owned Cooperative at Republic Windows and Doors

Once a symbol of worker mistreatment and the failures of the financial system, the famous Chicago factory may soon be run cooperatively by its workers.

First, they occupied the factory to get their wages from the bosses that owned the machinery. Then, they occupied their factory to keep the second bosses from shutting down their machinery. And, now, they are on their way to owning and running the machinery.

The group of workers who occupied their Chicago factory in 2008 and again in 2012 incorporated a worker-run cooperative on May 30, 2012. The factory window makers will take over was formerly owned by Republic Windows and Doors and then Serious Energy, and will now be run by New Era Windows, LLC.

Their battle to win wages and back pay from Republic Windows and Doors by occupying the factory is often mentioned in the same breath as the occupation of the Wisconsin State Capitol to protest Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-union bill as a flash point of progressive struggle since the recession took hold.

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.

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