Breaking Brown

May 9, 2013

K!ll Your Masters: Chicago Employees Celebrate New Worker Owned and Operated Business

K!ll Your Masters: Chicago Employees Celebrate New Worker Owned and Operated Business

Workers at the New Era Windows Cooperative have something to truly celebrate. They didn’t just get a job where someone else calls the shots, they built a chicago workers cooperativecooperatively owned and unionized business.

After the window factory where the employees worked closed down last year, they organized and re-opened the business – sans the bosses. The workers raised the money to re-open the factory and run it democratically.

These are the very same workers who were involved in a six-day sit in after the Republic Windows and Door company gave the workers only three days notice before closing the factory. Workers eventually reached a settlement with the owners that gave them $6,000 each.

Democracy Now spoke with Armando Robles and Melvin “Ricky” Maclin, two workers formerly of the Republic Windows and Door company who are now part of the New Era Windows Cooperative. They discussed why the cooperative is important to them.

Maclin says the idea came about rather organically:

Well, I came off of working in Argentina for about nine years with factories in a similar situation. They were closed down, and workers took them over and began running them. So then I met Armando Robles in New York in 2009 and mentioned this history to him. And he thought, “Wow! That seems kind of—that would be good.” And then, three years later, in 2012, he and some of the other workers called up and said, “OK, remember that co-op idea? What if we—can we really make that happen?” And I said, “I’ve seen it happen before. Why not?”

He also says that people can help by buying windows from the company and starting co-ops in their own communities.




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