New Era Employees File Legal Arbitration to Save Jobs at Former Serious Chicago PlantJuly 5th, 2012 by DWM Magazine
Employees of New Era Windows LLC, the window manufacturer formed earlier this year when Serious Energy announced it was closing its Chicago-based facility, have filed legal arbitration in hopes of buying some of the company’s machinery—as well as saving jobs.
As part of an agreement reached with Serious earlier this year, the workers, members of the United Electrical and Machine Workers of America Local 1110, were to be able to purchase the machinery from their former employer and raise the investments necessary to start up their cooperative and begin producing windows. However, they were notified this past Sunday that Serious plans to instead liquidate the assets by this Friday.
Leah Fried, a spokesperson for the union, told DWM magazine that on Tuesday the union filed arbitration on the grounds that Serious violated the agreement they entered into with the union that they would seek a buyer for the Chicago operation. She says New Era employees were told by the CEO of Serious that it was “out of the running” because it was not interested in selling only part of the machinery or accept financing and instead would liquidate.
“My understanding is that New Era told Serious Energy they would pay the cash they have raised ($520,000) as a down payment and then would get financiering, etc. to cover the rest,” says Fried. “Serious said they were not interested and that’s clearly a violation. So we’re pursuing legal action because we believe they violated our agreement and these jobs are worth saving.”
Fried says New Era would prefer to have a discussion and a solution for Serious to live up to its commitment; New Era is open to them extending the deadline.
“New Era has the money if Serious is willing to work with them,” she says. “If they don’t cooperate we will continue on a path of legal ramifications. That’s a decision the arbitrator will make.”