The American National Can Co. plant at Sparrows Point, which is scheduled to close Dec. 28, will be reopened and operated by a new can company, officials of United States Can said yesterday.
Jack McGoldrick, a spokesman for the little-known, Oak Park, Ill.-based can-maker, said his company will attempt to rehire many of the former American National workers early next year.
In the midst of a recession and continuing losses of manufacturing jobs, "this is a bit of welcome relief," said Mark L. Wasserman, Maryland's secretary of Economic and Employment Development.
Though the American National workers were represented by the United Steelworkers' union, the US Can plant may not be unionized, Mr. McGoldrick said.
"It is up to the employees" if they want to unionize, he said.
US Can hopes to restart operations at Sparrows Point by March, he said.
The company doesn't expect to bring the plant back to its old level of operations, though.
Mr. McGoldrick said the company expects to hire only about 100 people and operate only the plant's lithography line, which is where sheets of steel are printed with can designs and labels.
At one time, the Sparrows Point plant, which was originally a National Can plant, had several hundred workers operating both lithography equipment and machines that made can ends.
But after National bought its longtime competitor, American Can, in the mid-1980s, many plants were closed.
Carol Constantine, an American National spokeswoman, said yesterday that her company was shutting down the plant because labor there was too expensive.
The head of the Steelworkers' union for the local plant could not be reached for comment last night.
This is the second US Can start-up to be announced this fall.
In October, the 8-year-old company announced it would open a Howard County plant that would make one-gallon paint cans. That plant also will start operations early next year.
Mr. McGoldrick said the Sparrows Point plant will likely primarily serve makers of aerosol cans.
US Can is the nation's largest producer of aerosol cans, he said.
US Can, a privately held company that was formed when managers bought the can-making operations of the Sherwin-Williams paint company, will have sales of $350 million this year, Mr. McGoldrick said.