How many times does the vice president of the United States visit a window manufacturing plant? Not that often. (Yes, I know President Bush visited NuAir Manufacturing in Tampa several years ago but that event was kept under wraps and the press wasn’t invited.)

But the press was invited to Serious Materials yesterday (formerly Republic Windows and Doors) to hear Vice President Joe Biden, along with several other public officials, speak regarding the fact that Serious Materials is a great example of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) at work.

I couldn’t miss attending this event for two reasons. I’m not going to lie to you, I thought it would be pretty cool to be in the same place as the vice president of the United States. I’ve never had such an opportunity before and I didn’t want to pass this one up.

But the other reason I couldn’t miss it is because DWM magazine covered this story, with all its crazy twists and turns, since the company abruptly closed its doors in December. I just had to be there when some workers were brought back, and as Serious prepares to re-open. (The plant isn’t up and running yet. For all the news from yesterday’s event, CLICK HERE).

Sen.Dick Durbin told those in attendance, “The former owner plundered and ripped the guts out of this plant. That’s a true story. And it’s a sad story.”

It is a sad story and unfortunately I think it’s one that many outside the industry have forgotten. But the workers who endured it all didn’t forget, so it was great to see them revel in the fact that they are back to work. (The photo posted on this page pretty much sums it up-the raising of their hands in victory).

Of all the things that happened yesterday, I’ll tell you what struck me the most. It all started with this statement from Durbin who introduced Frank Edwards, production manager, who has been re-hired at Serious.
“He worked here for 13 years,” said Durbin. “And he’s about to introduce the vice president of the United States.”

I seriously got a chill hearing this.

“Thank you, Mr. Vice President, for making my life whole again,” said Edwards.

There’s that chill again.

When Biden took the stage he commended Serious president Kevin Surace for keeping the union in tact. “Instead of what many companies have done, instead of saying you can come back, but we’re dismantling your union, you kept the union in tact.”

I know I’m close to this story, but I have to say I’m a little disappointed that yesterday’s event didn’t receive more national attention. It was all over the news when Republic workers occupied the plant, but now that some are coming back to work (due in part to the passage of the ARRA), there is barely a mention.

In fact, I just have to bring up a story I read on MSNBC. The reporter in attendance focused on the fact that Sen. Roland Burris introduced Durbin as a senior citizen instead of the senior senator. The bulk of her article was about that gaffe; then at the end she briefly mentioned that some workers have been rehired.

Okay, maybe the people of America need a laugh, but I think they also need hope and the stories of these workers offer that. I hope we see more news of the latter.

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  1. […] more on yesterday’s event, CLICK HERE to read DWM editor/publisher Tara Taffera’s […]

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