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‘Glass City’ Awaits Decision On Future Of Anchor Hocking Plant
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Mass furloughs announced at a Lancaster glass plant have raised fears a longtime employer will close. Both civic leaders and city residents say the Anchor Hocking plant abruptly shutdown with little notice to the workers or the community.
On the west side of Lancaster, employee parking lots are nearly empty. The Anchor-Hocking glass plant and its employees have been idled. Longtime city resident Jerry Culverson says the sudden loss of so much work has sown fear through-out the city.
“It kind of seems like it’s real this time. I mean hearing from a lot of people that work there. They seem to think it is shutting down,” says Culverson.
EveryWare Incorporated, the current owner of Anchor Hocking, declined a taped interview with WOSU News on the status of the glass plant. In an e-mail, spokeswoman Erika Schoenberger, says the company “anticipates the furlough to last three to four weeks.” But, she adds that depends on business factors. The furloughs were issued after the company disclosed it had defaulted on some loans and suffered a 38 million dollar loss during the first three months of 2014.
Anchor-Hocking is the second largest employer in Fairfield County with 1,150 workers. The plant makes tabletop and food preparation glassware. It started production more than a century ago, in 1905. What worries county commissioner Mike Kiger is the suddenness of the furloughs and the lack of contact between the company and city and county leaders.
“They’re not returning phone calls since they made this announcement,” says Kiger.
Kiger adds that Anchor-Hocking and glass making runs in the business DNA of Lancaster.
“This is a glass city. I mean we had Lancaster glass here, we had Anchor Hocking here. That’s what you did. And, then in ’86 or ’87 is when they had the turmoil where they were taken over by another company and things changed a little bit and this is another change coming down the road, kind of like aftershocks following an earthquake,” says Kiger.
Current workers and a retiree from Anchor-Hocking declined requests for taped interviews saying they wanted to hear more from the company. Barbara Simon volunteers at a non-profit in downtown Lancaster, Like so many she had relatives who worked at Anchor Hocking and she keeps in touch with some who still work at the plant.
“I have only talked to two people and they were both of the mind that it’s not only going to be four weeks that it might just be a pulling out, and we shake our heads because it’s been here for so long,” Simon says.
Commissioner Kiger says local officials are willing to help the company “in any way possible” to keep the plant in operation and the workforce employed. The company says it is not currently seeking any incentives.