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California firm buys Chicago factory where laid-off workers staged sit-in

The CEO of Serious Materials of Sunnyvale hopes to reopen the Republic Windows & Doors plant and rehire the workers.

February 27, 2009|Associated Press

CHICAGO — The factory where laid-off workers staged a sit-in that garnered national attention last year was sold to a California company, which hopes to rehire the workers and open in about a month, the workers' union and the new owner said Thursday.

The sale of the former Republic Windows & Doors plant to Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Serious Materials, a manufacturer of energy-efficient windows, was approved Wednesday by a bankruptcy judge.

The company has agreed to offer jobs to the former workers, said Mark Meinster, a spokesman for their union, United Electrical Workers.

Kevin Surace, chief executive of Serious Materials, said a lease must be renegotiated with the factory building's owner and plant equipment needed to be repaired before work could resume.

"If we can do all those things, everybody's going to get their jobs back," Surace said. About 200 of the 240 laid-off workers occupied the Republic factory for nearly a week in December after the company gave them just three days' notice before closing the plant. Republic filed for bankruptcy protection shortly after the sit-in.

It ultimately agreed to the workers' demands for severance and accrued vacation pay.

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