About 300 members of the Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics & Allied Workers Union struck the company on April 15 after rejecting a concessionary contract that owner John Ghaznavi said was needed to make the plant competitive.The three-year agreement reached Thursday evening contains a 5 percent wage reduction for the remainder of this contract year, said Lou Brudnock, president of GMP Local 134.But he noted the wage reduction will be returned to employees in the contract's second year, and that the third year will contain a guaranteed raise based on industry averages.
Ghaznavi in return has pledged $2 million to upgrade a glass-making tank that is in need of repair, Brudnock said. The brick-lined interior of a glass furnace degrades with use and must be periodically replaced.
If Ghaznavi fails to begin rebuilding the tank by the end of the year, Brudnock said, the employees will recoup the concessions.
The company entered negotiations seeking wage reductions of 8 percent, although that was lowered as talks progressed. The end result was less onerous to employees than one rejected by a 146-to-110 vote before the strike began.
"In a strike, nobody wins. Both sides get hurt,'' Brudnock said. "But I think people feel they gained some respect. They will stand up to him (Ghaznavi)."
In addition to the financial settlement, Brudnock said, all the strikers will return to their jobs and a small group of replacement workers hired after the strike began have left the plant. The deal also reimburses employees for any health-care costs they may have incurred during the strike since the previous contract had expired.
Ghaznavi said he was pleased that the strike was settled. "I'm glad this is passed,'' he said. "We look forward to making a profitable plant out of it."
Ghaznavi first bought the plant in 1988. He then bought controlling interest in several other glass companies, but the empire collapsed when Consumers Packaging Inc. of Toronto filed for protection from creditors under Canada's bankruptcy laws in 2001.
Consumers, one of Ghaznavi's investments, had purchased Glenshaw in 1997 as part of its purchase of Tampa, Fla.-based Anchor Glass Container Corp. Ghaznavi, who bought Glenshaw back last year, is no longer affiliated with Anchor.
There was resentment among employees going into the strike because they felt Ghaznavi had abandoned the plant during his period of acquisitions and now wanted them to foot the bill for the refurbishment.
"Hopefully, this guy will reconnect with the people,'' Brudnock said.