Henryetta Labor Dispute Moves Into Holiday Weekend


Friday, September 2nd 2011, 5:10 pm
By: News On 6


Craig Day, NewsOn6.com

HENRYETTA, Oklahoma -- A labor dispute in Henryetta is heading into Labor Day weekend. Members of the United Steel Workers union are at odds with Anchor Glass.

They're picketing at several of the company's facilities across the country, including the plant in Henryetta.

9/1/2011 Related Story: Henryetta Union Workers Walk Picket Line At Glass Plant

Just across from the Anchor Glass plant in Henryetta, a small group of United Steel Workers Union members is on strike.

They have their signs, a stockpile of supplies, and determination to get a new contract.

"We want a fair contract, that's basically all we're after, a fair contract with the company and hopefully we'll get that," said Tom Burkhart, Local 145 President.

The union members' three year contract with Anchor Glass expired September 1, 2011. Negotiations over the past couple of weeks haven't resulted in a new one.

"I'm disappointed. We do a good job for the company, we do quality work for the company and we would like to be rewarded accordingly for what we've done," Burkhart said.

The 145 local only has 16 members in Henryetta and the facility remains in production, but United Steel Workers union members at seven other Anchor Glass locations nationwide are also on strike.

It's the first time in 22 years in his trade that local Union President Tom Burkhart has felt the need to picket.

"For us to walk off our job, it's hard. It's not an easy thing for us to do, because we're giving up our livelihood to support our position of a fair agreement," he said.

Because of confidentiality agreements, local union leaders can't discuss the sticking points of talks.

But, in a statement, Anchor Glass says USW members have good, well paying manufacturing jobs that include market competitive wages and comprehensive health care and retiree benefits.

And that the latest offer provides an increase in total compensation over the existing agreement.

Anchor Glass says it is willing to negotiate in good faith in order to reach an agreement with the union members.