Sit-In at Goose Island Plant "Total Déjà Vu"

Serious Energy, the company that leased the plant from Republic Windows and Doors in 2009, announced Thursday that it was closing the plant down and consolidating its operations in plants in California and Pennsylvania

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Serious Energy, the company that leased the plant from Republic Windows and Doors in 2009, announced Thursday that it was closing the plant down and consolidating its operations in plants in California and Pennsylvania

    Some of the same employees who locked themselves in a Goose Island plant a little more than three years ago are again fighting for their jobs.

    Serious Energy, the company that leased the plant from Republic Windows and Doors in 2009, announced Thursday that it was closing the plant down and consolidating its operations in plants in California and Pennsylvania.

    "Ongoing economic challenges in construction and building products, collapse in demand for window products, difficulty in obtaining favorable lease terms, high leasing and utility costs and taxes, and a range of other factors unrelated to labor costs, have compelled Serious to cease production at the Chicago facility," the company said in a statement.

    "It's a total déjà vu," said Leah Fried, a spokeswoman with UE Local 110. "We feel very strongly that these jobs should be saved."

    About 65 people, mostly employees, locked themselves inside the 268,000 square foot facility. Outside, another 50 people -- some employees, but mostly members of the Occupy movement -- stood outside in the cold and rain/snow mix.

    "We feel so bad about what's happening. Can you imagine the first time and now one more time it happens again," said Raul Ramirez, who worked for the company for 18 years before being laid off in November. "[The company doesn't] care about the people. They don't care about the families. We work hard for them."

    The employees and their supporters want time to gather funds to purchase the plant or to seek an independent buyer. The company, which manufactures SeriousWindows, SeriousGlass, and iWindow-branded products at the facility, appeared unwilling Thursday night to allow the employees to do that.

    "I feel terrible. I feel bad. I'm worried. As a father, I need to take care of my family," said 20-year employee Apolinar Caberara.

    Caberara said he has three kids to support and worked the final shift at the company, ending at 2 p.m.

    Workers gained national attention in December 2008 when they staged a six-day sit-in demanding severance and accrued vacation pay after Republic Windows and Doors gave them just three days notice before closing the plant down.

    The workers had argued the shutdown violated federal law because employees were not given 60 days' notice.

    The company's main creditor, Bank of America, was criticized for cutting off funds to the plant, and then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich had ordered all state agencies to stop doing business with the bank.