Anchor Glass building will sit empty for now

The Anchor Glass Container Corp. building in South Connellsville where more than 300 workers were laid off nearly two weeks ago will sit empty for now.

According to state Sen. Rich Kasunic, recent talks between Gov. Ed Rendell and the CEO of the Anchor Corp. have made it clear that there are no plans to reopen the business and there are no plans to sell the facility.

"The governor offered the company assistance in terms of anything that could be done financially such as tax breaks, training programs or help with equipment, but he (the CEO) is of the mindset that there's nothing the commonwealth can do to change the situation," said Kasunic.

"The company is dead set on the decision that was made and no matter what was offered to them, they are not interested in entertaining the idea," he added.

The CEO explained to the governor the corporation's side of things, telling him that the company was at a zero customer base at the site and has been for some time, according to Kasunic.

"It's unfortunate that the decision was made and they will not be looking at reopening the site or looking for any help from the state to do so," said Kasunic.

The next best scenario would be for the corporation to sell the plant so that another company could open for business on the site.

But that will not happen either.

"They're not interested in selling the plant because it would have to be sold to one of their competitors and they can't afford to do that," said Kasunic.

Pete Casini, mayor of South Connellsville Borough, does not believe that the Anchor corporation would have to sell to a competitor if it chose to sell the plant.

"It's a shame that they don't sell it," said Casini. "They could bring in a specialty glass shop and I don't think that would be competition for them."

The loss of a local wage tax to the borough from the recent job losses will be hard for the borough to take.

"We're still putting the numbers together, but it's going to hurt us bad," said Casini.

Because the corporation denied any help from the state or local entities, the next step for officials is to offer any kind of help possible to those people who lost their jobs.

"Our focus now is to look at retraining those individuals and find jobs out there suited for the type of training they receive," said Kasunic.

He added that there is a program called the Training Adjustment Act (TAA) that will provide money for those who have lost their jobs to go back to school for new training.

The only thing is, it has to be proven that they lost their job to foreign competition, which the local unions will look into.

Every individual will still be eligible for unemployment benefits and will have assistance through the state program. Also, if a person is to be approved for the TAA program, the unemployment benefits would be extended.

But help is being looked for on a local level as well.

Fayette County Commissioner Vincent Vicites has been in contact with representatives from the Pennsylvania Career Link and with the Workforce Investment Board to see if those who lost their jobs can possibly be matched up with companies who are looking for workers.

"All we can do now is do what we can to create new jobs," said Vicites. "The Pennsylvania Career Link is familiar with the type of job opportunities that are available now and in the future."

But Vicites admitted that this type of situation is devastating to families.

600450 Anchor Glass building will sit empty for now
Date: 18 November 2004

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