WBEZ | Mesirow Financial Holdings http://www.wbez.org/tags/mesirow-financial-holdings 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