Augusta Economy

More News | Fort Gordon | Plant Vogtle | Savannah River Site | Editor

AGY workers protest in front of Aiken plant

  • Follow Local Business

Calvin Creech has spent 10 years reporting to work at the AGY plant in Aiken. But when he tried to enter the workplace at midnight Friday, Creech said, he was turned away.

Workers picket Aiken's AGY plant after being locked out of their jobs amid a standoff over proposed contract changes that would reduce vacation and overtime pay and get rid of seniority.  TODD BENNETT/STAFF
TODD BENNETT/STAFF
Workers picket Aiken's AGY plant after being locked out of their jobs amid a standoff over proposed contract changes that would reduce vacation and overtime pay and get rid of seniority.

Map View

Javascript is required to view this map.

“When I was coming in, I was stopped by the deputy and (told) we are on a lockout,” said Creech, a specialist at the glass fiber manufacturing facility on Wagener Road. “That means we have to turn around because we have no job. It makes me feel like crap.”

Creech and several of his hourly co-workers, all members of the Teamsters Local Union No. 509, stood in front of the facility at mid-morning Friday protesting a proposed new labor contract that would cut employees’ vacation, holiday and overtime pay; get rid of plant seniority; change the attendance policy; and enforce random drug and alcohol tests.

“It is a slap in the face,” Creech said. “We give up a lot of our time.”

According to a memo to local union members from President L.D. Fletcher, the union’s negotiating committee had worked with AGY from March 24 to May 1 trying to create a new labor agreement. The memo said the company also wanted changes to the existing contract that would eliminate the maintenance apprenticeship program, allow unlimited use of subcontractors and change the leave of absence policy.

“With this many unacceptable company proposals, we haven’t even discussed wages,” said the letter, which was given to The Augusta Chronicle by one of the picketing union members.

“As part of the company strategy, management has made the decision to bring in temporary employees to observe the plant process,” the letter said.

Local Teamsters directed questions to Fletcher, who has not returned messages.

Creech, who has one daughter in college in Albany, Ga., said he works a seven-day shift at the facility and tries to pick up overtime hours when possible.

“This is our livelihood,” he said.

The first wave of picketers arrived on site about 6 a.m. Friday, switching out about every three hours. Union members said they planned to remain in front of the plant every day for 24 hours until there’s a resolution.

As protestors, some of whom have worked at the site for 27 years, held signs that read “AGY Locked Me Out,” chanted, “We want our jobs,” and waved to passing motorists, they received several honks in return.

By noon, about 30 picketers were positioned on three corners in front of the plant. Two patrol cars from the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office blocked the entrance. A deputy called AGY representatives inside the plant to see whether they’d like to speak with media, but they refused.

AGY, once known as Ad­vanced Glassfiber Yarns, is a worldwide producer of glass fiber yarns and high-strength glass fiber reinforcements with offices in Asia and Europe. Glass yarn is used in products ranging from ballistic armor, insulation and aircraft wings to archery bows and surfboards.

The Aiken plant employs about 600 salaried and hourly workers, according to picketers. The business was started by neighboring glass manufacturer Owens Corning, which decided to get out of the glass fiber reinforcements and yarns markets business.

AGY was launched in 1998 as a joint venture and became independent in 2004.

In November, AGY sold its Hunt­ing­don, Pa., fiberglass plant to a capital management group as part of a strategy to concentrate on its core fine glass fiber yarns business. Huntingdon produced continuous filament mat used to make electrical insulation panels and composite parts for automotive interiors.

In 2011, Owens Corning workers, represented by the same union, went on strike for a month over lower wages for new hires and a pension freeze.

Comments (3) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
etlinks
19026
Points
etlinks 05/03/14 - 07:21 am
4
2
unions

What a mess when you deal with unions.

GiantsAllDay
9037
Points
GiantsAllDay 05/03/14 - 03:12 pm
4
2
They should pass out Hostess

They should pass out Hostess twinkies to the striking workers. It will remind them of another company ruined by labor unions.

The Mick
827
Points
The Mick 05/03/14 - 01:39 pm
1
2
"We want our jobs"!!! Great

"We want our jobs"!!! Great chant guys. I guess you should have thought about that when you signed your union card and the union then made unreasonable requests of the employer. I am sorry that families are affected by this, but joining the union was a choice. This is the consequence of said choice. The labor movement is obsolete.

rmwhitley
5526
Points
rmwhitley 05/03/14 - 07:31 pm
0
0
unions suck the
Unpublished

life blood from it's membership and the cities where they are located. I'd be willing to bet that l.d. fletcher lives in a very nice home, owns very nice vehicles and obviously helps suck the life from the local teamster's membership. There was a time and a place for unions. That time and place has EXPIRED.

Back to Top

Top headlines

Setback for health care law

WASHINGTON - A federal appeals court has delivered a serious setback to President Barack Obama's health care law, potentially derailing subsidies for many low- and middle-income people who have ...
Loading...