Glass union's concessions help keep Millville plant running

The principal union for workers at The Glass Group Inc. plant here reached a deal with management Friday to accept cost-saving changes to its existing contract.

The two sides gathered Friday morning at GGI headquarters on Wheaton Avenue. A verbal agreement, more limited than the company had been seeking, was struck at 3:30 p.m.

The agreement is being put into writing. A signing is expected shortly.

The Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics and Allies Workers Union (GMPPA) agreed to several changes:

Ceding some flexibility in scheduling vacations.

Limiting double-time pay to holiday shifts.

Having new hires paid at a reduced hourly rate.

"We felt that was enough if the company was hurting," said Les Orange, president of GMPPA Local 219.

The biggest issue was settled early in the day, Orange added. The union demanded and got written assurance that its pension system will not be compromised.

"We weren't willing to sit down until that was resolved," Orange said, adding that a grievance had been filed earlier.

GGI officials couldn't be reached for comment Friday.

The company had sought a significantly longer list of changes, claiming they were essential to maintain competitiveness. The plant had lost bids for about 245 million bottles in 2003 due to pricing, the company told union workers.

As recently as Feb. 5, GGI told workers that the Millville operation could be closed if costs couldn't be cut.

One further development is that the union's international representative is moving to set up a three-way meeting with Gov. James E. McGreevey. Orange said the focus would be on finding ways to help GGI.

The plan employs about 650 people, of which approximately 500 are represented by GMPAA.

600450 Glass union's concessions help keep Millville plant running
Date: 16 February 2004

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