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Eagle workers worried about future

by Julie R. Cryser


(September 13) Janis Bartlett, an employee at Eagle Convex Glass Co., wants to know one thing and one thing only.

"Most of us just want to know if we're going to have a job or not," said Bartlett, who after working 26 years at the Clarksburg factory fears what the future holds for herself and 53 other employees.

"Hopefully, they do something soon so we can all quit worrying about it," she said.

Employees, all of whom received letters in August saying they will be terminated once the company is sold, could be waiting a while to find out anything about their future. Plant managers and Tom Hays, the man who wants to purchase the computer screen and tempered lighting glass company, still don't know when the deal might close.

Hays, who came to the company in 1993 as the president of a Pennsylvania certified turn-around company, has signed a letter of intent to purchase the plant. He wants to finalize the deal by the end of the September, but he is awaiting shareholder approval, as well word back from the state Workers' Compensation Division and Division of Environmental Protection. He is trying to get a lower workers' compensation insurance rate and to find out how to lower his environmental liabilities.

He's still not certain everything will be worked out by the end of the month.

In the meantime, employees have been told that they will have to take a test to be hired back after Hays takes over the plant, which will become Eagle Glass Specialty Inc. Hays said nothing has been finalized, including the criteria for who will be hired back.

"I would think those people who come aboard will be happy with the thing," he said.

Hays said he wants to cross- train workers so they have multiple job skills. Workers will become associates and supervisors will become facilitators.

"We're going to start a new company and we're going to hire new employees and we're going to offer an environment where there probably will be more job security, better pay and more opportunities for advancement," Hays said.

Employees of the new company will go through an orientation. They will be told exactly what is expected of them.

They will receive employee handbooks, something that never existed in the past.

Managers like Gwen Kesling, who has worked at the plant nearly 20 years, say this is an exciting time.

"It's encouraging to talk about the vision we all have," she said.

But Kesling and about 11 other managers are a part of a management team that, if all goes as planned, will buy out Hays five years from now and own the company. So she sees things a little differently than the average plant employee.

"I know that for a lot of people, there is uncertainty factory-wide," Kesling said.

That's true, according to several employees who want to know that one basic question.

"We really don't know; we're all waiting to see if we'll get hired back," said Mary Francis Mazzie, an employee at Eagle for 37 years.

Virginia Bise, an Eagle employee for 27 years, agrees.

"We're just waiting to see if we'll get back," she said.