Over 150 delegates gathered in Perrysburg, Ohio, on 12 and 13 November 2018, and held the first ever meeting of the Owens-Illinois network in conjunction with the global glass alliance of the Glass, Molders and Pottery (GMP) council of the United Steelworkers (USW), and the USW glass workers.
The GMP was formerly a separate union which joined the USW through merger. Joint work in the glass sector is organized in the alliance, representing over 90 per cent of the unionized glass workers in the USA.
Participants from North America, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and France gathered at the invitation of IndustriALL Global Union and its North American affiliate the USW for the Perrysburg meeting, near the Owens-Illinois headquarters.
On the first day, USW International Vice President Fred Redmond addressed the conference, honouring the USW global glass aliance and the Owens-Illinois global union network.
The participants had exchanges over global networking and social dialogue and the importance of cross-border solidarity. They also discussed the different systems of workers’ representation worldwide. They adopted a resolution, demanding global social dialogue in Owens-Illinois and a solidarity position on Brazil. In addition, the delegates set up a steering committee for the Owens-Illinois global network.
On the second day, company representative Gary Morgan, Owens-Illinois director of labour relations for the Americas, addressed the meeting and discussed global social dialogue with the international guests.
The global glass alliance also invited representatives from other glass companies and discussed their needs and questions.
Matthias Hartwich, IndustriALL director for the mechanical engineering and materials industries, stated:
“This is a historical meeting – not only for the USW global glass alliance, where GMP and USW glass makers come together in one organization, but also for the Owens-Illinois global union network – we made a huge step forward and also sent a strong signal to Owens-Illinois’ management that we want social dialogue. Let’s hope that the management responds accordingly.”
Bruce Smith, GMP council chairman, USW, said:
“The USW GMP council local unions and staff are very proud and appreciative of having the opportunity to participate in this historic global glass container conference with our sisters and brothers from the USW glass conference and our global labour partners as we continue working together to improve our reach, sophistication and preparation to match and exceed that of our employers with whom we bargain.”
And Tim Tuttle, chairman of the USW glass industry conference, added:
“I’m proud to have been a participant at such a historic conference. Where glass workers from around the world joined together, building power and taking action that is sure to provide a higher degree of dignity and respect for the sisters and brothers of our global family.”
Owens-Illinois, one of the world’s leading glass container companies, is based in Perrysburg, Ohio and employs over 26,000 workers in the Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific.