Union in negotiations to keep Shreveport glass plant open

Local

SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – One of the largest employers in Shreveport is considering closing its doors and employees are hoping to come to a compromise to keep their jobs.

Libbey Glass filed for bankruptcy protection last month, now company leaders have announced the local plant may permanently close. That has the nearly 380 members of Steel Workers Union 711T negotiating with the company.

“I started from the bottom doing a little sealing, I did a little selecting,” said Michael Kimble. “I’ve worked in just about every department in the building.”

Kimble’s dedicated most of his adult life to Libbey Glass.

“It’s just been an awesome experience,” he said. “It’s a place like no other place that you’ve worked in.”

The union president of Steel Workers 711T is now assisting with production of tableware.

“We got this new machine in that’s the only machine in the United States area called a BLT,” said Kimble. “I’m a technician on that machine.”

He’s worked at the Shreveport manufacturing plant for 36 years.

“This is all I know,” said Kimble.

The bulk of the company’s nearly 450 employees are union members, and many of them have also worked at the facility for decades.

“We’re willing to do what we have to do to keep everybody working,” said Kimble. “And hopefully allow Libbey to come back to full strength.”

He said the union is currently in litigation with the company. They’re offering to restructure items in their contract, like benefits and salary, to keep everyone employed.

With so many employees having devoted their lives to manufacturing, Kimble said he’s concerned about future career prospects if the company closes, especially in the midst of the pandemic.

“To have to come out of there in the time we’re in now with very few jobs out there, you have everybody vying for the same job and we don’t want to be put in that position,” said Kimble.

But, he said he’s staying hopeful everything will work out.

“You have to be optimistic,” he said. “Even if the dors close, life don’t end after Libbey Glass. You have to stay focused and locked in, because when you start digressing, you start dying.”

Kimble said the union hopes to have a final decision on whether the plant will close in the next few weeks.

If they decide to shut down production, company executives said that will happen by the end of the year.

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