Zeledyne: union workers at plant hope for new investment

Zeledyne Tulsa employees are hopeful that a sale of the company could revive the glass plant and save some of the 210 jobs in peril.
After news in January 2010 that Zeledyne LLC would cut more than a…

Zeledyne Tulsa employees are hopeful that a sale of the company could revive the glass plant and save some of the 210 jobs in peril. After news in January 2010 that Zeledyne LLC would cut more than a third of the south-east Tulsa plant“s workers, union officials now say a buyer who could make multimillion-dollar investments may be the best way to save the plant. Meanwhile, company officials confirmed they are reviewing the business now that Zeledyne has left the architectural glass industry. “As reported earlier, Zeledyne is exiting the commercial glass segment, due to a significant decline in architectural glass revenues”, said a statement from Zeledyne spokeswoman Della DiPietro. “With such a decision, it is prudent to take a step back and look at our overall business and strategic options”. The company has had two rumored buyers in the last six months, although Zeledyne declined to comment on a possible sale. Fred Dorrell, president and chairman of Local 1895 of the United Auto Workers, said employees at the plant want to keep making glass, regardless of who is running the company. “I dont believe that were in the wrong business”, Mr. Dorrell said. “We have good workers here. We just need someone that is going to invest in Tulsa”. Mr. Dorrell estimates that the factory needs upwards of USD 20 million in upgrades to be competitive. Zeledyne also informed the union this week that it plans to keep on workers three weeks past its 28 March 2010 layoff notice date and continue running one of its large glass-making furnaces during that time. Businessman Robert Price bought the former Ford Glass plant in 2008 and created Zeledyne. At the time, union employees agreed to wage and benefit concessions and, in turn, Mr. Price promised to try to keep the factory operating until 2015, according to union documents. The company then made a big push into the architectural glass segment, making windows for commercial buildings and skyscrapers as the real estate market boomed. But a commercial real estate slump has undermined demand for such glass, and in January 2010 Zeledyne decided to abandon that segment of the business. The remaining 320 workers will focus on cutting glass shipped in from other glass makers. Zeledyne also has glass plants in Nashville, Tennessee., and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.