USA: Glenshaw Glass employees strike over contract

Production workers went on strike at Glenshaw Glass in Shaler, Pennsylvania on 15 April 2003 after employees rejected concessions and negotiators failed to reach a last-minute compromise on a new cont…

Production workers went on strike at Glenshaw Glass in Shaler, Pennsylvania on 15 April 2003 after employees rejected concessions and negotiators failed to reach a last-minute compromise on a new contract. Production employees represented by Locals 134 and 76 of the Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics & Allied Workers International Union set up picket lines after midnight when talks collapsed. The negotiations have been complicated by the past dealings of the union and company owner John Ghaznavi, who has twice purchased Glenshaw Glass – the first time in 1988 and the second time in 2002. In a statement, Ghaznavi said that he was surprised by the decision of his employees to go on strike since they were told work would be available for a “reasonable time” under terms of the expired contract. “What has to be understood by the employees and their families is that we are trying to save an old plant,” Ghaznavi said. “Furnaces at the Glenshaw plant are in need of repair. Our wages and fringes are significantly higher than our single-plant competitors.” Lou Brudnock, president of Local 134, said his members“ discontent stems from the concessions that employees gave Ghaznavi before he bought a controlling interest in several other glass companies through his Pittsburgh-based G&G Investments. “The people here feel he deserted us when he had the means to modernize this plant,” Brudnock said of Ghaznavi. “This place was making money hand over fist, based on the talent of the people here, but he took the money and tried to buy the world. Now, he wants to rebuild it again on the backs of us, the workers.” Ghaznavi“s investments included Consumers Packaging, Inc., a company based in Toronto, Canada that filed for protection from creditors under Canadian bankruptcy laws in 2001 and whose assets were later sold to Owens-Illinois Inc. Consumers bought Glenshaw Glass in 1997 as part of its purchase of Tampa, Florida-based Anchor Glass Container Corp. Ghaznavi, who bought Glenshaw back in 2002, is no longer affiliated with Anchor Glass. Ghaznavi entered negotiations seeking wage cuts of 8%, said Brudnock, whose local represents about 230 members. Local 76 represents another 70 workers. The concession request was lowered to 5% in the offer that was rejected in the evening of 14 April 2003. Brudnock said the union made a counter offer on the evening of 14 April of a one-year wage freeze, but that proposal was rejected by management, which then sought a three-year freeze with no wage reopener. “We tried until midnight but couldn“t get anything we could live with,” Brudnock said. “The contract expired.” Ghaznavi said he believes that once the economic state of the plant and the need to remain competitive is “fully explained to and understood by the employees and their families, we can reach an amicable settlement.” No talks were scheduled.