WBEZ | Serious Energy http://www.wbez.org/tags/serious-energy Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en 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