Biden to visit shuttered Republic Windows plant

Vice President Joe Biden will visit the former Republic Windows and Doors plant this morning to talk about the Obama Administration's efforts to create jobs. 

The company declared bankruptcy in December, throwing more than 200 people out of work and igniting a media firestorm. Workers held a six-day sit in at the plant in an effort to force the company to provide severance pay.

The Goose Island plant was later purchased by Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Serious Materials. Serious announced it would rehire all of Republic's workers. The company said it expected tax credits for energy efficient windows in Obama's stimulus package would spur an increase in demand.

The factory was expected to reopen earlier this month. But on Friday the only people theret were a handful of workers cleaning and repairing machines, according to Abe Mwaura, a representative for UE Local 1110, which represents the workers.

"It's really a skeleton crew right now," Mwaura says.

Some of the hundreds of former workers have moved on during the four months the plant sat idle, he says. The union still expects the plant to reopen, but doesn't know when.

Calls for comment to Serious Materials' spokeswoman and CEO were not returned.

Mayor Richard M. Daley and U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Roland Burris will join Biden at the plant.

Staff Writer Fernando Diaz covers labor and unions for the Daily News. He can be reached at 773.362.5002, ext. 14, or fernando [at] chitowndailynews [dot] org.