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Workers in factory occupation claim victory

Juan Cortez, right, says he and other employees want to buy the factory. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)

About 60 employees of a Chicago window factory are claiming victory after an 11-hour occupation of the plant.

Their union, the United Electrical Workers, says it reached a deal Friday morning with the plant’s owner, California-based Serious Energy, Inc.

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.

The employees hope the extra time will enable them to find a buyer or purchase the factory themselves.

“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.”

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.

That occupation pushed Bank of America, a Republic lender, to reach a nearly $1.75 million settlement with the workers.

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