Fenton Art Glass lays off more than 10 employees

The Fenton Art Glass Co. will lay off more than 10 employees, Fenton officials said Wednesday. The exact number of layoffs is unclear, said George Fenton, president of The Fenton Art Glass Co.

However, media reports indicate the total number of affected workers is 34.
The company employs 445 workers, 347 of whom are in the United Steelworkers of America Flint/Glass Industry Locals 22 and 508. Fenton declined to release how many of the laid-off employees are union members.

"We are going to be having some layoffs that are in response to current production requirements," Fenton said.

Fenton said the affected employees were notified Monday that Friday will be their last day of work. Many of the laid- off employees work in the glass-making area, including some from departments that correlate with glass making. The layoffs will not affect workers in the decorating department, he said.

"We are behind in the decorating area, and we have enough work there to keep the people busy at this time," Fenton said.

Fenton said the decorating department has been behind for a while, and workers are still trying to catch up with production.

The company hired 10 workers earlier this year from entry level to decorators and continues to seek additional decorators, he said.

Fenton said lower production is not uncommon for this time of year and seasonal patterns and overall business levels influenced the decision. It also affects in which department layoffs occur, such as glass making or decorating.

"We look at what we need to do and adjust up or down to meet the orders, and that is what we are doing in this case," he said.

Fenton said the lagging economy also influenced the decision.

"I think the economy has a lot to do with it," he said. "I think the gift industry as a whole is being very cautious in their buying."

Fenton said there have been individual months that have been good in terms of sales in the past year, but there has not been a consistent increase in orders.

Dave Lusetti, assistant to the chairman of the United Steelworkers of America Flint/Glass Industry Division, said he heard of the layoffs, but did not know the specific number of affected employees.

"I don't know what is going on with the business (Fenton)," Lusetti said. "I haven't spoken to anyone from the company."

Lusetti said he believes the layoffs are a reflection of the economy and cited the exporting of jobs overseas as a factor to decreased employment opportunities.

The layoffs come two weeks after the approval of a three-year contract for union employees, which went into effect March 3.

According to a Fenton press release, the new agreement provides an improved pension plan as well as adjustments in wages.

Fenton declined to release the details of the contract, but stated the wage adjustments included a less than 1 percent decrease for some of the union employees who were renegotiating their contracts.

Lusetti declined to release terms of the recently ratified contract.

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