Window makers start manufacturing cooperative in Chicago

May 9, 2013 4:26:16 PM PDT
Five years ago, a group of workers staged a sit-in at Republic Windows and Door. Now, those workers own the company, called New Era Windows Cooperative.

The orders just started rolling in for New Era Windows Cooperative. Joel Cruz has 18 years of experience making windows.

"I know. . . everything on the line," Cruz said. Cruz has gone from worker to owner. At New Era Window Cooperative, all 17 workers are member/owners.

"Our future, our lives don't always have to be someone else's hands. We can take control of our destiny," Ricky Maclin, New Era Windows Cooperative, said.

New Era Windows Cooperative didn't come without a fight. In 2008, the members were employees of Republic Windows. They staged a six day sit-in for back pay.

National attention brought in a new owner, but Serious Windows didn't make it. So, some of the workers took it on themselves.

Thursday was the grand opening of New Era in Brighton Park. With financial backing from nonprofit Working World, the workers are starting their own business.

"It's a new era for the working class," Armando Robles said.

Working World executive director sees what happens when workers are invested.

"If they are given a piece of the pie, then they will bring their knowledge to the product and the quality you are seeing come out of this facility is extraordinary," Brendan Martin, Working World, said.

Coop member owners hope their expertise and commitment will lead to sustained success.

"I'm happy, I want to see the future," Cruz said.

"Buy windows, buy windows, buy windows," Maclin said.


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