Volume 39, Issue 3, March  2004


Upstate New York Glaziers and Ironworkers 
up in Arms Over Public Jobs

To the glass industry, it may seem cut and dry: glaziers do window installations. However, in upstate New York the question of just who should perform public jobs has been causing controversy.

For years it had been the practice in the area that for public jobs, windows were installed by glazing contractors. There was, however, no jurisdiction between glaziers and ironworkers over which party should be doing this work. According to an article in the February 13, 2004 Central New York Business Journal, “90 percent of the window installations on public works have been done by glaziers. In the mid-1990s, the ironworkers began protesting this work classification, saying they were the true installers of windows.” The article explained that since then the ironworkers have filed a series of protests challenging the glazier classification, saying the work was misclassified. Currently, 48 cases are pending. A final resolution could take years, and with the state currently siding with the ironworkers, wages and funds are being held from the glaziers.

At least one glass company has been fined more than $10,000 in withheld funds. It has requested a hearing, and contends that the state is dragging its heels in the process.

“We can’t appeal or anything until we have the hearing,” said the unnamed source. “They are leaving us in limbo.”
Enter the New York State Glass Association (NYSGA). Glaziers in the area have joined together under the NYSGA to try and resolve this issue.

Industry Rumors of Acquisitions Abound

In the glass industry, it seems there’s always talk of companies buying companies. Sometimes the talks are just rumors and other times they are the real deal.

For the past year one of the biggest rumors flooding the industry has been the question of who’s buying Kawneer. Sources have told USGlass that bids for Kawneer have been made by a number of companies, including Apogee Enterprises as well as others without ties to the glass industry. While Kawneer has yet to make a sales announcement, Bill Cralley, president and chief executive officer, confirmed the company is presently going through due diligence in anticipation of the sale.

“Labor Department policies are costing taxpayers potentially millions in unnecessary costs by requiring installation of glass windows on public projects to be classified as ‘ironworker’ rather than ‘glazier,’” said Jerry Pollock, an association spokesperson. “A survey of 59 school and local government construction projects in 27 upstate counties from 2000 to 2002 revealed that the vast majority of hours worked on these projects were performed by glaziers, not ironworkers,” Pollock added.

According to Jim Smith, president and owner of N.E.P. Glass Co., in the way of the survey, glaziers have tried to show the Department of Labor (DOL) historically evident information that shows by whom this work has been done in the past.

“Our snag, though, is the DOL is unwilling to recognize our work because we are not a union signatory,” said Smith. He explained that even after presenting the survey to the DOL, which showed that from 2000 to 2002, 55,000 hours of labor [on public jobs] was performed by glaziers and only 2,600 by ironworkers and carpenters, the department still refused to acknowledge it.

“They say that if we’re not a union signatory we can put anything down that we want.”

He continued, “We’re trying to emphasize, that it’s never been different—glaziers have always done this work. The DOL also fails to recognize that we (N.E.P. Glass) have a New York State certified apprenticeship program for glaziers … which includes installation. We’re not a fly-by-night company, but that’s the credit they give us.”

To date, two hearings have been filed by the NYSGA, but neither has been heard.


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