Pittsburgh Glass Works in East Deer delays shutdown
East Deer’s Pittsburgh Glass Works has postponed the closure of its Creighton plant for a month, angering some workers who are making plans for retraining and new jobs, according to the United Steelworkers.
The plant had been scheduled to lay off about 160 union workers by Monday , according to PGW’s most recent Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification filed with the U.S. Department of Labor.
Formerly owned by PPG, the Glass Works plant in Creighton can’t keep up with increasing technological demands, PGW CEO and President Joe Stas has said. The products it can manufacture it is producing above market demand, according to Stas.
Plant workers learned about the one-month extension Wednesday, according to Kent Crytzer of Buffalo Township, the glassworks union president for the United Steelworkers.
“They’re frustrated and angry,” he said.
“They were told one thing, then two days before they were going to be shut down, they were told their work is going to be extended for four weeks.”
Jennifer Eck, Senior Director of Human Resources for Vitro Automotive Glass said the company opted to extend operations for a month “in order to fulfill customer obligations and orders.”
“We are following all legal obligations related to the WARN notices and will be filing all required notices as required,” Eck said in a statement. “We are working with all employees on a case-by-case basis to accommodate other opportunities they are considering or obligations to which they have already committed.”
Crytzer said Monday he wasn’t sure about the legality or the impact of the newly extended plant operations. USW attorneys are studying the issue, he added.
Workers who are retiring won’t be as impacted as much as those workers lining up their schooling for retraining and other programs, Crytzer said.
Late last year, the union and PGW worked together to file for federal benefits to provide greater retraining opportunities to the workers.
The United Steelworkers filed a petition Dec. 13 with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance program, claiming the workers were adversely affected by foreign trade. Under TAA, laid-off workers receive extended unemployment compensation, job retraining and allowances for relocation expenses in addition to state benefits. In April, the TAA program accepted the petition, making workers eligible for the federal benefits.
“If anyone had a job lined up, they will be able to go,” Crytzer said.
But as for those seeking retraining, Crytzer didn’t know how many workers would be impacted.
“Nobody has said, ‘I’m starting in July,’ ” he said. “What they are worried about is if it turns into late August or September.”
Many workers have been visiting the state’s Department of Labor CareerLink offices for help with career planning, he said.
The union is pressing for a “productivity bonus” for the workers given the extended duration of work, according to Crytzer.
Editor’s note: This story was updated June 26 with a statement from a Pittsburgh Glass Works official.