The vice president, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and both Illinois United States senators celebrated the re-opening of the North Side factory. It will be used to manufacture what are called the most energy-efficient doors and windows in the world by a self-described green company.
That company took the building over from the Republic Windows and Doors Company that suddenly closed in December. About 270 workers were laid off with virtually no notice. They lost their benefits and severance and actually locked themselves inside the factory for several days as a parade of politicians used the incident to dramatize what had gone wrong with the economy.
California-based Serious Materials will now reopen the plant and hire back hundreds of those same workers laid off by Republic. Serious believes it can succeed because the Obama administration has set aside $20 billion in stimulus money for everyone to buy energy-saving products like those to be produced there.
"Everywhere I go and everyone I see, there are places and stories just like this, stories about the recovery act in record time has spurred economic growth in this economy, a growth that we so badly, so badly need," said Biden.
"And I pledge to you, not only in government but the private sector, we'll be buying Serious materials, windows and other components that you are making right here," Daley said.
"Because the worker never gave up on the dream, the city never gave up on the dream. President Obama and Vice President Biden didn't give up on the dream. And we're here to make it a reality," said Sen. Dick Durbin, (D-Ill.).
Serious began refitting or retooling the plant about a month ago. So far, it has rehired about 20 of those former Republic workers.
The new company is honoring the union contract when it really did not have to do that. The new company hopes to have several hundred workers in this building collecting paychecks every few weeks at the end of this year. And they say they're serious about it.