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‘Green’ Co. Tied To Obama Firing 46 Workers

From a conveniently memory deficient Associated Press:

Chicago window factory where workers staged sit-in to close, 46 jobs eliminated

February 23, 2012

CHICAGO — Serious Energy Inc. said Thursday it will close a Chicago window factory that became a symbol of the plight of American workers more than three years ago when employees briefly occupied the building.

In response, United Electrical Workers spokeswoman Leah Fried said about 50 workers are again occupying the factory in an effort to stay employed. “The workers are refusing to leave,” Fried said. “This time we want the possibility of keeping these jobs.”

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Serious Energy said it will close its Chicago factory and consolidate manufacturing at facilities in Colorado and Pennsylvania, eliminating about 46 union and nonunion positions

Serious Energy bought assets from Republic Windows and Doors, a factory that received national attention during a 2008 worker sit-in after owners gave employees just a few days’ notice before Christmas that they were shutting down…

Vice President Joe Biden visited the reopened factory the following April when the facility was touted as an example of economic reinvigoration thanks to the federal stimulus. At the time, Serious Energy had started rehiring some of the more than 200 laid-off workers to make energy-efficient windows at the plant. Biden toured the factory in an industrial area on Chicago’s North Side.

And that is all the AP wants us to remember. But let’s recap. On December 3, 2008, the executives of Republic Windows announced to its workers that it would end operations on December 5 due to the Bank of America, its main lender, canceling its line of credit due to a severe downturn in business at the plant.

The company informed its 260 employees that they would not be compensated for their accrued sick or vacation days and that their health insurance would be terminated on December 5. Workers began a sitdown strike to protest that the company did not give them 60 days notice.

As we noted at the time, Obama and Jesse Jackson and others exploited the Republic Windows ‘sitdown strike’ for political gain. In fact, President-elect Obama even planned to visit the occupiers, to show solidarity. (He never did.)

A settlement was reached on December 11, which gave $1.75 million dollars to the workers. On December 15, 2008, Republic Windows filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Then, in February 2009, seemingly out of nowhere, Serious Materials, a Sunnyvale, California-based company that produces ‘environmentally friendly’ building materials, announced it had purchased the buildings and assets of Republic Windows. The company also announced that it intended to hire back all of the former factory workers.

But Serious Materials had some serious connections, which were uncovered by the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota back in January 2010:

“A Serious Conflict of Interest?”

January 15, 2010

Minneapolis, MN — The Freedom Foundation of Minnesota (FFM) today released the results of their eight-month investigation into a high-ranking Obama Administration official’s close ties and apparent conflict of interest regarding the economic stimulus package and its energy efficiency provisions.

Last year Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA or the so-called Stimulus Bill). The U.S. Department of Energy’s office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) received $16.8 billion of those ARRA funds to be used to promote green energy and conservation programs including the popular $1,500 tax credit for homeowners who install energy-efficient windows. The Assistant Secretary of Energy, Cathy Zoi, is responsible for oversight in disbursing these stimulus funds.

Ms. Zoi is married to Robin Roy, a top executive at Serious Materials, a privately held manufacturer of “sustainable green building materials” located in California. On the Executive Branch Personnel Public Financial Disclosure submitted by Ms. Zoi to the White House Ethics office as part of her confirmation, Ms. Zoi disclosed ownership with her spouse of 120,000 vested and unvested stock options in Serious Materials, a company her office regulates and that she may profit from.

According to several news reports and the trade magazine Window & Door, Serious Materials was “[A] company, and a man, virtually unknown in the window and door industry just a short time ago.” Yet this small California manufacturer suddenly burst on the scene in Washington as what Vice President Joe Biden called the “poster child” for green jobs and economic recovery. For the past several months, the White House has repeatedly praised and promoted Serious Materials.

What has all of this praise from the White House meant to Serious Materials? “The new administration is a huge boon to what we are doing,” Kevin Surace, CEO of Serious Materials said in a June interview. “The White House issued a press release specifically thanking Serious Materials a few weeks ago. We had a 22 minute press conference with the president. In a national address, he opened with Serious Materials. I don’t think we can ask for better coverage. We are very close to the White House and Department of Energy…”

And, it’s Assistant Secretary Zoi’s office that has disbursed billions of dollars taxpayer dollars for the very windows that Serious Materials manufacturers and her husband works for.

“On the surface, this appears to be another case of government using tax dollars to pick winners and losers,” said Annette Meeks, CEO of the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota. “Yet upon closer examination, it appears to be a bit more than that. Our research suggests that one window manufacturer that has very close ties to this Administration has received lavish attention and special tax breaks…"

The Washington Examiner’s Timothy P.Carney picked up the story this time last year:

Obama’s green subsidies attract do-gooder bandits

By Timothy P.Carney
February 23, 2011

First, Serious Materials benefited from free advertising by the White House: President Obama praised a new Serious factory in March – before he officially nominated Zoi – and then Vice President Biden made a public visit to a different Serious plant in April, just after her nomination but before her confirmation. Finally, Serious was also the first window company to pocket a stimulus tax credit – worth $584,000 – for investing in new equipment.

Zoi testified before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in favor of a HOMESTAR program, also known as cash for caulkers, which became another subsidy for Serious.

At the time of her nomination, the couple owned between them 120,000 stock options in Serious Materials, according to her April 2009 personal financial disclosure. She also owned at least $265,000 of stock in a Swiss company called Landis+Gyr that makes "smart meters," high-tech thermostats that the administration has promoted for saving energy

Earlier in February 2011, Ms. Zoi left the Obama administration to go to work for a new ‘cleantech’ private equity (!) fund sponsored by George Soros.

Now Zoi has left Energy’s EERE, where she advanced and implemented subsidies for renewable energy, and is going to work for a Soros-backed green-tech fund: Silver Lake Kraftwerk, a partnership between Soros Fund Management and Silicon Valley private equity giant Silver Lake.

Zoi’s boss will be veteran tech investor Adam Grosser, who gave more than $50,000 to Democratic candidates last election. Soros said the fund, for which he is employing the former head of the federal Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy office, will focus on "developing alternative sources of energy and achieving greater energy efficiency." …

Meanwhile, all of those struggling workers at the window factory are once again out of a job.

But Obama’s crony landed on her feet.

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, February 24th, 2012. Comments are currently closed.

4 Responses to “‘Green’ Co. Tied To Obama Firing 46 Workers”

  1. River0 says:

    This is just like the crony fascism of Mussolini and Hitler in the 1920’s and ’30’s. If you played ball with the Ruling Classes in Rome or Berlin – as Joseph Kennedy did – and made the necessary ‘donations’ to the Parties, you got government contracts. If not you were run out of business.

    Our fellow citizens have a huge moral decision to make in November.

  2. Astravogel says:

    I don’t think it takes a huge moral
    decision to leave it in the bowl or flush it.

  3. tranquil.night says:

    So, we got 5$/gal. gas right now because the Republicans are protecting the ill-gotten profits of their friends the oil executives and speculators, right?

  4. canary says:

    Add Michael Moore’s capitalization movie to the coop with union leader spokesperson Leah Fried.


    My eyes are really bad, but the name Fried stood out to me someone maybe Obama organized in with in his Chicago Days.

    But, when I googled Obama and his Dreams book and Fried, all I found was where Obama’s illegal uncle was recently arrested near a “fried chicken” restaurant.

    That and something in the book about an ‘eat your damn fries’ ; comment over a spiff about basketball. He informed his friends about his muslim conversion as a young teen during basketball. It may have been the No ***** (female slur) and no ribs, not for me.

    I’ve never seen or never will watch a Michael Moore movie so I don’t know if Capitalism got made with the Window business.

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