Struck firm takes job applications

March 29, 1994|By Ross Hetrick | Ross Hetrick,Sun Staff Writer

Poly-Seal Corp., a Baltimore-based maker of plastic caps and container seals, yesterday began taking job applications for potential replacement workers as a strike against the company entered its fourth week. But Poly-Seal stopped short of saying it would actually replace the striking 380 workers.

"Right now we are accepting applications and interviewing, and then we will make a decision on what to do," said Robert N. Gillman, president and chief executive of Poly-Seal. "I'm keeping all my options open."

There have been no negotiations between the company and Local 6967 of the United Steelworkers since March 18. The main issues have involved a company proposal for a 12-hour daily workschedule and changes in the workers' health benefits.

Since the workers walked out on March 2 at the company's two plants, at 8303 Pulaski Highway in Baltimore County and at Holabird Industrial Park in Southeast Baltimore, there have been only minimal operations, Mr. Gillman said.

Robert S. Meyers, president of Local 6967, said the solicitation of possible replacement workers has angered his members. "They [Poly-Seal] never ever attempted to get back to the bargaining table with us," he said. "I don't think it will do it [negotiations] any good."

David Wilson, director of United Steelworkers of America, Distric 8, doubted the company's action will sway the workers. "I think it will make the people angry," he said. "My sense of it is it's not going to work."

To discourage replacements, Mr. Wilson said, the union will be putting up large banners today at the Poly-Seal plants saying, "This plant on strike."

Set up in a conference room at the Best Western Hotel on O'Donnell Street yesterday, the company accepted more than 200 applications, according to William C. Baschke Jr., director of human resources for the company, and the company plans to take more today.

Three union pickets did show up at the fifth-floor room about 11 a.m., but departed after hotel management asked them to leave, Mr.Baschke said. "Fortunately, we have had no problems," he said.

Some of the people waiting to be interviewed yesterday said that they felt uneasy about the possibility of replacing strikers, but said they are driven to it by the need for a job.

"I would have to [work] because I have children and a home to support," said Alfonzo Pridget, 32, who lost his job at Baltimore Thermal Window Co. a year ago.

Another applicant, who asked that his name not be used, said hewould take a job so that he could leave his low-paying kitchen job at a local restaurant. "I hate to put somebody out of a job, but you got to do what you have to do," he said.

But Merritt M. McCauley, 55, said he has no intention of crossing a picket line, even though he filled out an application. "If that's their intention, to replace strikers, I won't work there," he said.

Mr. Gillman of Poly-Seal said the company is profitable, but needs the changes in the work schedule and health benefits to remain competitive.

Mr. Gillman said the company has already received an unsolicited offer to relocate to Dothan, Ala., where wages would be lower. "They're offering us everything but the kitchen sink," he said. "If this continues, they [the workers] will hurt themselves."

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