WBEZ | Republic Windows and Doors http://www.wbez.org/tags/republic-windows-and-doors Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Almost 200 lose jobs as Chicago window maker closes http://www.wbez.org/news/almost-200-lose-jobs-chicago-window-maker-closes-110342 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/window.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Almost 200 workers on Chicago&rsquo;s Southwest Side are losing their jobs at a window manufacturer whose owner led a Goose Island company that gained national notoriety when laid-off workers held a 2008 sit-in.</p><p>Ronald Spielman, owner of <a href="http://www.armacladwindows.com/">Armaclad Windows and Doors</a>, 4422 W. 46th St., said Thursday he had no plans to relocate the factory and was liquidating the company&rsquo;s assets.</p><p>Armaclad restructuring manager Tony Natale said the liquidation will be &ldquo;piecemeal.&rdquo; A goal is to avoid filing for bankruptcy, he said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re going to try and get the best recovery we can for creditors.&rdquo;</p><p>Natale said the company&rsquo;s red ink totals $13 million and said the creditors include two banks, a temp-labor firm, trucking companies and suppliers.</p><p>Armaclad is cutting off about 145 workers assigned to the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nx1iP903mfY">factory</a>&nbsp;by the labor firm, Cicero-based Alternative Staffing. Another 50 workers were employed directly by Armaclad. Most worked their last day at the factory this week.</p><p>Natale blamed the company&rsquo;s collapse on unusually cold temperatures last winter and on what he called &ldquo;bad management.&rdquo; Armaclad, known for its vinyl windows, failed in an attempted expansion to fiberglass models, he said.</p><p>For years, Spielman owned Republic Windows and Doors, a company that received about $10 million in city tax-increment financing to build the Goose Island plant. That building was sold in a 2006 deal that allegedly netted Spielman millions of dollars.</p><p>Republic kept operating there until a mass layoff in 2008. Dozens of workers refused to leave the plant in a sit-in that won praise from Barack Obama, who was president-elect. The <a href="http://www.chicagopublicradio.org/story/news/economy/factory-sit-ends-175-million-deal">occupation</a>&nbsp;lasted six days and ended after Republic creditors agreed to pay the workers severance packages.</p><p>In December, five years after the sit-in, a Cook County judge sentenced Spielman associate Richard B. Gillman to four years in prison for looting Republic.</p><p>As Gillman was prosecuted, Spielman denied wrongdoing.</p><p>The Armaclad closing could be a boon to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/laid-workers-open-their-own-factory-107118">New Era Windows</a>, 2600 W. 35th St., a fledgling cooperative owned by 16 workers who were employed by Republic.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a sad time when any worker loses his job,&rdquo; New Era member Ricky Maclin said.</p><p>New Era leaders said their co-op might be able to bring on some of the laid-off Armaclad workers if business picks up.</p><p>&ldquo;Our windows are still made on the same machines that produced the windows at Republic,&rdquo; Maclin said. &ldquo;We would very much like an opportunity to showcase our windows&rdquo; to former Armaclad customers.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://plus.google.com/111079509307132701769" rel="me">Google+</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 13 Jun 2014 11:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/almost-200-lose-jobs-chicago-window-maker-closes-110342 Former Chicago factory CEO pleads guilty to theft http://www.wbez.org/sections/work/former-chicago-factory-ceo-pleads-guilty-theft-109316 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Republic Windows (2).JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The former CEO of Chicago manufacturer Republic Windows and Doors pleaded guilty to one count of theft of his own factory.</p><p>Richard Gillman accepted a plea bargain of a four year prison sentence and paying a $100,000 fine.</p><p>Ricky Maclin is a former worker of the Republic Windows and Doors factory. He and fellow workers began a sit-in exactly 5 years ago at the Republic factory when it was abruptly closed during the height of the economic downturn.</p><p>They protested for six days over vacation and severance pay owed to them. Maclin now co-owns New Era Windows Cooperative with some of his former co-workers from Republic. He says justice was served.</p><p>&ldquo;New Era might not be here, but Republic would have been still going had he made different choices. As we make choices today, we always keep that in the back of our minds,&rdquo; Maclin said.</p><p>Gillman&rsquo;s attorney Edward Genson said his client at the time wanted to save the factory from bankruptcy.</p><p>&ldquo;The fellow who tries to help ends up being the butt,&rdquo; Genson said.</p><p>Genson said Gillman was a victim of the bad economy and he ended up being the &ldquo;fall guy&rdquo; for a failing business. In the courtroom, Genson said Gillman apologized to the<br />former workers present because he felt bad for what happened.</p><p>Workers like Maclin said thinking back five years ago, he doesn&rsquo;t completely buy the apology, but he said the sentencing has given him closure.</p><p>New Era has been in business since May. The co-op is made up of 16 workers from the Republic factory. The business isn&rsquo;t turning a profit, but they say they&rsquo;re at least breaking even. They&rsquo;re receiving orders from different parts of the country and expect business to pick up even more in the spring.</p><p>Co-owner Armando Robles said it&rsquo;s hard work, but they&rsquo;re all hopeful.</p><p>&ldquo;Sometimes we feel tired, sometimes we feel frustrated, but we have one hope to have our company. Now, we have our company. Now, we are producing. We have big, big dreams to grow,&rdquo; he said.</p><p><em>Susie An covers business for WBEZ. Follow her on Twitter @soosieon.</em></p></p> Thu, 05 Dec 2013 17:12:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/sections/work/former-chicago-factory-ceo-pleads-guilty-theft-109316 Laid-off workers open their own factory http://www.wbez.org/news/laid-workers-open-their-own-factory-107118 <p><p>A few hours before the grand opening of New Era Windows Cooperative, Melvin &quot;Ricky&quot; Maclin is standing&nbsp; in the middle of the factory, beaming.</p><p>&quot;All of this is ours,&quot; he said. &quot;We have our own trucks, our own forklifts. It&rsquo;s a whole new world.&quot;</p><p>Maclin&rsquo;s title is the same as the 17 other people who work here: worker-owner. Together, they vote on decisions about the factory. He proudly shows the place where they jackhammered the floor to install water pipes. He says the workers didn&rsquo;t know how to complete some of the steps to set up the factory, but they learned. They also took classes on business management.</p><p>&quot;At first we thought we were just lowly factory workers,&quot; Maclin said. &quot;But now we see we have so much more in us.&quot;</p><p>Maclin says that being a worker-owner means that for the first time in his life he has control over what happens to him. Back in 2008, when the factory was closed for the first time, he was devastated.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/New%20Era%202.jpg" style="height: 169px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Melvin “Ricky” Maclin holds a postcard advertising New Era’s line of windows named after their union. (WBEZ/Shannon Heffernan)" />&quot;This was right before Christmas,&quot; he said. &quot;I didn&rsquo;t even know if I was going to be able to buy my grandkids a doll for Christmas. It was a dark time, it was like we were in a free fall.&quot;</div><p>Maclin and the other workers of Republic Window occupied the closed factory. They were later paid the severance wages that they were legally entitled to receive. A California- based company called Serious Materials bought the factory and hired back the workers. But not long after, they also closed down.</p><p>The workers decided to do things differently that time and buy the factory themselves.</p><p>Working World, the organization that provided them with a credit line to help open the cooperative, says it would cost most companies $5 million to open. It cost New Era less than $650,000.</p><p>The first windows made by the factory will be titled the &ldquo;1110 Series&rdquo; after their union, United Electric 1110.</p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a reporter for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/shannon_h" target="_blank">@shannon_h</a></em></p></p> Fri, 10 May 2013 07:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/laid-workers-open-their-own-factory-107118 Workers at troubled window factory turn to mayor http://www.wbez.org/news/workers-troubled-window-factory-turn-mayor-100681 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Mesirow.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: left; width: 300px; height: 436px; " title="Daisy Navar pickets in support of Serious Energy workers Thursday in front of Mesirow Financial Holdings Inc. in downtown Chicago. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />A Chicago-based financial firm with ties to Mayor Rahm Emanuel has a say on the future of a troubled Goose Island window factory. The workers at that plant are asking for Emanuel&rsquo;s help to save it.</p><p>Mesirow Financial Holdings Inc. has invested big bucks in the factory&rsquo;s California-based owner, Serious Energy Inc. Mesirow Senior Managing Director Thomas E. Galuhn serves on the Serious board of directors.</p><p>A Mesirow statement to WBEZ calls the window factory a &ldquo;money-losing operation&rdquo; and talks about auctioning off the assets. The plant&rsquo;s workers fear that would lead to liquidation.</p><p>The same workers held a six-day occupation of the factory in 2008 and won moral support from President-elect Barack Obama. The occupation pushed a lender of Republic Windows and Doors, the plant&rsquo;s owner at the time, to settle with the workers.</p><p>In 2009, a precursor to Serious Energy bought the window company for $1.45 million and vowed to try to bring back the workers.</p><p>This year, however, Serious Energy told them it was closing the operation.</p><p>The company made that decision after investing &ldquo;several million dollars trying to reengineer the Republic operation to make it sustainable,&rdquo; the Mesirow statement says. &ldquo;Serious concluded that in the present economic climate it was not possible to turn around this money-losing operation.&rdquo;</p><p>About 60 employees began another occupation of the factory February 23. After 11 hours inside, they left with an agreement. Their union &mdash; the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America Local 1110 &mdash; says Serious Energy promised to keep the plant open another 90 days and help find a buyer.</p><p>Now about two dozen of the workers have formed a cooperative, New Era Windows LLC, in hopes of purchasing the business themselves. They are not disclosing investors but say they have raised nearly $500,000 to buy some of the plant&rsquo;s equipment and resume production.</p><p>A union official said Serious Energy agreed late Thursday to hold off on a planned auction and resume negotiations with the workers.</p><p>The cooperative is calling on Emanuel to help broker a deal. &ldquo;His administration has made a commitment to try to save jobs and promote manufacturing,&rdquo; said Brendan Martin, a New York-based consultant who is helping the cooperative raise funds. &ldquo;The city also happens to be interested in environmental retrofitting programs like new windows.&rdquo;</p><p>Martin also noted that the city invested millions of dollars in tax-increment financing for the plant.</p><p>If Emanuel gets involved, he might have some pull. In December, the mayor appointed Mesirow Senior Vice-President Olga Camargo to the city Plan Commission. In May, when Michigan Avenue magazine put Emanuel on its cover, Mesirow&rsquo;s Chicago headquarters hosted the edition&rsquo;s release party.</p><p>Neither Emanuel&rsquo;s office nor Serious Energy answered questions about the factory Thursday.</p></p> Fri, 06 Jul 2012 05:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/workers-troubled-window-factory-turn-mayor-100681 Workers in factory occupation claim victory http://www.wbez.org/story/workers-factory-occupation-claim-victory-96696 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2012-February/2012-02-24/Serious_0 - wbez chip mitchell.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-24/Serious_0 - wbez chip mitchell.jpg" style="width: 612px; height: 407px;" title="Juan Cortez, right, says he and other employees want to buy the factory. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)"></p><p>About 60 employees of a Chicago window factory are claiming victory after an 11-hour occupation of the plant.</p><p>Their union, the United Electrical Workers, says it reached a deal Friday morning with the plant’s owner, California-based Serious Energy, Inc.</p><p>The deal, according to the union, requires the company to suspend plans to close the factory immediately. Instead the company will keep the plant open another 90 days.</p><p>The employees hope the extra time will enable them to find a buyer or purchase the factory themselves.</p><p>“We can run this company,” said Juan Cortez, who has worked more than 23 years in the factory. “We got smart people [to] manage the money. We can find customers. We know how to run the company.”</p><p>Employees at the plant captured national attention in 2008 by occupying the factory for six days. Back then, the owner was a company called Republic Windows and Doors.</p><p>That occupation pushed Bank of America, a Republic lender, to reach a nearly $1.75 million settlement with the workers.</p></p> Fri, 24 Feb 2012 09:25:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/workers-factory-occupation-claim-victory-96696 Florida county hires official tied to Chicago scandal http://www.wbez.org/cmitchell/2009/10/florida-county-hires-official-tied-to-chicago-scandal/6913 <p>Miami-Dade County has hired a former Chicago window company official near the center of an alleged scheme to loot the business, pilfer manufacturing gear and set up a new operation in Iowa. Former Republic Windows and Doors Chief Operating Officer Barry Dubin will earn $425 an hour to help turn around Jackson Health System, Miami-Dade's struggling system of hospitals and clinics, according to the <a href="http://www.miamiherald.com/news/miami-dade/story/1283281.html">Miami Herald</a>. Dubin will serve as the system's chief restructuring officer over the next nine months, the newspaper reports. Cook County prosecutors last month charged Republic CEO Richard Gillman with defrauding company creditors and stealing cash from the firm. The indictment identifies an unnamed co-schemer as the company's chief operating officer. Republic shuttered its Goose Island plant last winter without federally mandated severance payments to the factory's roughly 240 employees. The workers, members of United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE), responded with a sit-in at the plant. The sit-in quickly became a national symbol of the nation's economic crisis. It ended <a href="http://www.chicagopublicradio.org/Content.aspx?audioID=30801">six days later</a> when two Republic creditors -- Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase -- agreed to pay the workers a combined $1.75 million. "Dubin is the last guy I'd want to see in charge of a hospital," says UE organizer Mark Meinster. I tried to reach Dubin on his cell phone Thursday evening. My message asks whether Cook County authorities have been in touch and whether he's the right fit for the Florida job. He hasn't returned the call.</p> Thu, 15 Oct 2009 18:39:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/cmitchell/2009/10/florida-county-hires-official-tied-to-chicago-scandal/6913 Michael Moore: "ËœSocialism Another Word for Democracy' http://www.wbez.org/blog/michael-moore-%C3%AB%C5%93socialism-another-word-democracy <p><img class="size-full wp-image-6242" title="michael-moore-movie-702085" src="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs/michael-moore-movie-702085.jpg" alt="michael-moore-movie-702085" width="349" height="209" /> Filmmaker Michael Moore was in downtown Chicago over the weekend for an advance screening of his latest documentary, "<a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1232207/">Capitalism: A Love Story</a>," which opens nationwide this Friday. The audience included dozens of laid-off Republic Windows and Doors employees. <a href="http://www.chicagopublicradio.org/Content.aspx?audioID=30801">Their sit-in at the company</a>'s Chicago plant last December earned them a leading role in the film. After the screening, Moore took audience questions. This 16-minute excerpt begins with him recalling his crew's reaction to a press release from the workers' union, the United Electrical Workers, on the first day of the sit-in. <a href="http://audio.wbez.org/cityroom/2009/09/cityroom_20090928_jkaufmann_955936_Blog.mp3">audio</a></p> Mon, 28 Sep 2009 10:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/michael-moore-%C3%AB%C5%93socialism-another-word-democracy