Green in Stimulus Bill Gives Workers in Chicago Their Jobs Back

Kevin Surace, CEO of Serious Materials

Remember back in December when 250 laid-off workers occupied the Republic Windows and Doors Plant in Chicago? As you may recall, the company was obligated to give the workers 60 days notice, but their creditor, Bank of America, had cut of the company’s line of credit, even after receiving $25 billion in government bail out money, making it difficult to pay the workers. The workers refused to leave until they got what was due them and, miraculously, they won.

Well now an even bigger miracle has occurred. Some of the workers are getting their jobs back because of around provisions in the stimulus package that put aside about $30 billion in subsidies for improved home energy efficiency. You see, California based Serious Materials, a producer of energy efficient building materials, took a look at that particular part of the stimulus package and realized they were going to be getting seriously busy since their windows qualify for a $1500 tax credit. Recognizing the need to expand to meet the coming demand for things like energy efficient windows, and having a desire to do some good in the world and to have a midwest location, they thought why not purchase the former Republic Windows and Doors factory in Chicago, and while we’re at it, why not rehire some of those union workers, at their former union wages, and teach them about making our energy efficient products? So that is exactly what they did.

“The reopening of this factory and the rehiring of these workers provide an excellent example of how the money in the Recovery Act is targeted to spur job creation quickly,” Vice President Joe Biden said in a statement Sunday.

“These workers will not only earn a paycheck again; they will go back to work creating products that will benefit America’s long-term economic future.” – Agence France Presse

Not all 250 workers will get their jobs back immediately, they are starting with around 50 employees in their new Chicago branch and then will hire more as orders increase. Serious Materials CEO Kevin Surace told the Mercury News, “What gave us the confidence to do this was the stimulus bill.” And isn’t that exactly what a stimulus bill should do? And all while making products that help the U.S. improve energy efficiency and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

Photo Credit: Kevin Surace, from Serious Materials Website

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