American Can plant to close 280 jobs to be lost

iron works also shutting.

October 29, 1991|By Liz Atwood and Ross Hetrick | Liz Atwood and Ross Hetrick,Evening Sun Staff

American National Can Co. has announced that it will close its Sparrows Point plant by the end of the year, costing the jobs of 280 workers.

Also, Williams Industries Inc., a industrial and commercial construction company based in Falls Church, Va., announced it will close two of its Baltimore operations and part of a third. The three operations have a total work force of about 115.

American National, a subsidiary of the French aluminum and packaging manufacturer Pechiney S.A., said it is closing its plant in Baltimore and a can-making plant in Regency, N.J. due to "non-competitive labor costs."

Company spokeswoman Carol A. Constantine said that workers in the plants are receiving up to $12 an hour more in wages and benefits than workers at competitive companies.

In addition, she said, the plants were not profitable enough to warrant the capital investments needed to keep them open.

She said the company has attempted to negotiate new wage agreements with the United Steelworkers of America, but said the chances are small that those negotiations would succeed and the plants remain open.

"We are certainly not in a point in negotiations where there would be seen a substantive agreement," she said.

The company also is pursuing the sale of the plants to interested buyers, but Constantine said that it is unlikely that a sale would mean that workers would be able to keep their jobs.

Local union officials said they did not negotiate with the company, but said some talks were held between the company and national union representatives.

Dorothy Berry, secretary of Steelworkers Local 6660, which represents workers at the Sparrows Point plant, said workers were notified of the closing yesterday. The company told workers that it will begin to phase out operations now and shut down the plant on Dec. 28.

The decision was not unexpected, Berry said. In recent years, the company had sent much of the work done in Baltimore to other plants and laid off workers.

Although the company said 280 workers will be affected by the closing, Berry said many of them already are laid off. She said only about 105 union members and about 40 managers are currently working at the plant.

The plant, which makes can ends and coats and decorates tin plate, has operated in Baltimore for 27 years. Berry said a majority of workers at the plant will be eligible for the company's pension program.

Clarence Turner, president of Local 6066 , said workers are taking the closing in stride. "There is no bitterness," he said. "It's just another one of those things."

Helping to ease the effect is a generous severance package, Turner said. "It's one of the best you can get," he said. Workers will continue to get supplemental pay for the next two years, he said.

The three affected Williams operations are Harbor Iron Works Inc., a miscellaneous metals fabricator; Harbor Steel Erectors, which does structural steel erection; and Arthur Phillips Inc., a industrial construction and plant maintenance operation.

The Harbor Iron and Harbor Steel facilities will be closed, but some operations at Arthur Phillips will continue, according to Marianne V. Pastor, a spokeswoman for Williams Industries Inc.

No date has been set for the closings, but the company hopes to have it accomplished by the end of its 1992 fiscal year, which ends July 31, 1992, Pastor said.

Harbor Iron on McHenry Street has about 20 workers, while Harbor Steel on Haven Street has about 14 workers. Arthur Phillips, the largest of the three operations, has between 80 to 83 workers at its facilities on Haven Street and North Point Boulevard, Pastor said.

It is uncertain how many of the workers will actually lose their jobs. "There will be opportunities for relocation for some of these people," Pastor said.

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