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Chicago Green Jobs Help Plant Reopen

Posted on March 3, 2009

Money set aside in the new government stimulus bill to increase greener living has helped the effort to create Chicago green jobs. That in turn has helped one Chicago plant reopen and many unemployed workers gain hope.

In December 2008, the Republic Windows and Doors plant shut down, leaving 250 people without work. The plant was supposed to give its workers 60-days notice, but Bank of America cut the company’s credit line, leaving the company no choice. However, the workers refused to leave and managed to strike a deal with the company.

Most recently, those workers have become even more lucky. Serious Materials, a California-based company that produces energy efficient building materials, purchased the plant. On top of that, the company decided it would rehire some of the plant’s former union workers and pay them their former union wages, according to an article by MercuryNews.

Serious Materials decided to expand in hopes it will soon need to meet a higher demand. The new federal stimulus bill calls for $30 billion in subsidies for improved home energy efficiency and a $1,500 tax credit for energy-efficient windows.

“What gave us the confidence to do this was the stimulus bill,” CEO Kevin Surace said in the article. “What I found was not a set of angry, tough people to work with. It was a set of really good people who’d been at the factory for 10 or 15 years and all they wanted to do was make windows.”

The rehired workers will be making about $14 per hour plus benefits. Serious Materials was able to purchase the failed factory for $1.45 million. While some equipment needs to be repaired and some replaced, workers should be able to start making windows again shortly.

“We’re really enthusiastic about being in a situation where we’re helping to create jobs in this economy,” Mark Meinster, a spokesman for the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, added in the article. “This is just a great story for workers. A bright spot in this economy.”