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Workers At Window Factory Win Reprieve From Layoffs

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Protesters demonstrate Thursday outside the Chicago window factory that was the scene of a 2008 sit-in. (CBS)

Protesters demonstrate Thursday outside the Chicago window factory that was the scene of a 2008 sit-in. (CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Workers are going to have to start working like managers, now that they have won a 90-day reprieve for their jobs at a window plant on Goose Island.

As WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports, word arrived Thursday morning that Serious Energy would immediately halt production of windows at its plant, at 1333 N. Hickory Ave. on Goose Island.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports

“Our immediate thought was we need to save these jobs,” said United Electrical Workers Union organizer Leah Friedman. “We engaged in negotiations, and they weren’t going anywhere.”

Friedman said the 50 union workers decided that since a sit-in worked at the very same plant in 2008, it might work again this time.

“What was interesting this time around is we had a huge camp of Occupy Chicago members outside of the factory,” Friedman said.

Friedman says Serious Energy agreed to continue production for 90 days, and work with the union to find a different buyer for the energy efficient window company.

Back in December 2008, when the factory was operated by Republic Windows and Doors, it made national headlines when the workers occupied the factory for six days, demanding a chance to save their jobs on an announcement that the factory was closing. They won nearly $2 million in wages and benefits owed to them from Bank of America.

The workers won the support of then-President-elect Barack Obama. Their struggle also inspired a book, Revolt on Goose Island, by journalist Kari Lydersen.

Serious Energy re-opened the factory and hired them back in early 2009. But on Thursday, the company said it was closing the plant and consolidating operations to two facilities in Pennsylvania and Colorado.

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