Price Pfister has turned down an offer from a local businessman to buy the shuttered foundry at its Pacoima plant, calling the offer inadequate.
In a related development, hourly workers at the troubled faucet plant have rejected a Price Pfister severance package that would have paid its most veteran workers up to 13 weeks, plus medical benefits, when laid off. It also would have included Teamsters union workers laid off since last year.
The vote, taken Sunday, was 207 to 155 against Price Pfister's offer, said Manny Barbosa, head of Teamsters Local 986 in Pacoima.
Since early last year, Price Pfister has laid off about 275 hourly workers as it has shifted more jobs to its lower-cost factory in Mexicali, Mexico, just south of the border.
The tentative package would have paid laid-off Pacoima workers a half-week of pay for every year of service at the company, with a maximum of 13 weeks. The average hourly wage at the plant is now $9.50 an hour, Barbosa said.
Although the local worker committee supported the severance package, employees rejected the proposal "because they do not feel it's enough for all the time they have spent working there. They feel they made the company," Barbosa said.
Price Pfister said it was "disappointed" by the vote.
In January, Price Pfister closed its antiquated foundry in Pacoima, but the company still has about 1,000 workers at its manufacturing and administrative complex there, including 800 hourly employees.
About a month ago, Lewis Williams, head of ArcWil Financial Holdings of Los Angeles, said he wanted to buy the 94,000-square-foot foundry and its equipment. The offer was revealed by City Councilman Richard Alarcon, whose district includes the Price Pfister plant.
However, Sam Wheeler, a Price Pfister spokesman, said Williams' offer was too low and "it didn't meet our requirements." Price Pfister has received no other offers to buy the foundry, Wheeler said.
Alarcon said he was disappointed that the Williams deal did not go through, but in a meeting two weeks ago with Price Pfister the company gave him the impression that it was "not planning to sell the [foundry]," Alarcon said. "They talked in some generalities . . . that they might use it for other kinds of operations after consolidating other sites."
Williams could not be reached for comment.
Price Pfister contends that it must shift more jobs to Mexico to save money after agreeing last year to comply with environmental restrictions contained in California's Proposition 65 and reduce the high lead content in its faucets. To do that, Price Pfister has been overhauling its antiquated manufacturing techniques, which led to the closing of the foundry.
Union activists and state officials counter that Price Pfister, which is owned by Black & Decker, is merely using Proposition 65 as an excuse, after years of mismanagement, to ship jobs to Mexico.
Last fall, Price Pfister President Ron Cooper told The Times that after closing its foundry, the company would have more space than it needed and might move its remaining operations out of state. That news prompted protests and hunger strikes at the plant.
Wheeler could not comment on any timetable for when Price Pfister will decide the long-term future of its Pacoima complex.
Barbosa said that Price Pfister has told him they don't intend to close down the plant completely.
But recently, 194 more hourly workers received notices that they would be laid off, probably in March, Barbosa said.