Union leader says glass firm's chief lost touch

John Ghaznavi used to have a good relationship with the workers at his Glenshaw Glass Co. bottle-making plant in Shaler Township, says the president of the union representing most of the 300 who work there.

But when Ghaznavi started trying to "buy the world" as Lou Brudnock put it, he lost touch with his work force.

Brudnock, president of Local 134 of the Glass Molders Potters Plastics and Allied Workers, said the latest blow was when Ghaznavi failed to show up personally at the last negotiating session before employees voted to reject his proposal of a 5 percent wage cut and began a strike last Tuesday. Stances in the labor conflict are hardening.

Ghaznavi has begun hiring replacement workers and no formal meetings of the two sides were scheduled as of Monday.

"It is my opinion he is trying to break this union," Brudnock said. "We're interested in getting a fair contract. We're willing to work."

Ghaznavi couldn't be reached for comment yesterday.

Brudnock, a 41-year veteran of the plant, said recent comments by Ghaznavi in the Tribune-Review were not correct. Ghaznavi's contention that Glenshaw workers make 21 percent more than their peers in other single-plant glass factories is misleading, he said.

Brudnock said Glenshaw's workers are paid equivalent to other major bottle producers. And he said union members were well aware of the contract they voted on, dismissing Ghaznavi's assertion that they were misinformed.

Brudnock also said members would have likely given up a 72 cents per hour wage increase they could have demanded to stay even with industry standards, as well as pension concessions that would have equaled $480 less per employee per month in benefits. But they were unwilling by a vote of 146-110 to give a 5 percent wage cut on top of that, which Ghaznavi demanded.

Richard Kline, spokesman for the Glass Molders Potters Plastics and Allied Workers, said union members are tired of Ghaznavi's "paternalistic" attitude toward them and resent his suggestion that they should be grateful for what he has invested into the plant.

"This isn't the plantation. These people work hard and deserve everything they earn, and they don't owe him any gratitude for their wages."

Brudnock said the first years of Ghaznavi's ownership brought prosperity as the plant received attention it had been lacking for years.

But he said Ghaznavi forgot his roots in the glass business as he went on a binge, buying Canadian glassmaker Consumers Packaging Inc. and Florida-based Anchor Glass Container Corp. in the late 1990s. Those businesses he wound up losing in bankruptcy, leaving him with just the Glenshaw plant.

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