Officials Discuss Foundry's Future, Job Retraining


City officials met Thursday with representatives of Price Pfister Inc. to discuss reopening a foundry that the firm is closing and retraining its laid-off workers.

Price Pfister--the nation's third-biggest faucet maker--has begun laying off about 300 foundry workers. Most of the jobs are being sent to Mexico to help defray the cost of complying with state regulations requiring the firm to reduce the lead content of its faucets, the company said.

Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon hosted the meeting in Pacoima, where the future of the firm and its laid-off workers were discussed.

Although Price Pfister is not likely to reopen the foundry, Alarcon and others said there are several government programs that can retrain workers and find them new jobs.

In addition, the meeting was attended by Raul Hinojosa, a UCLA professor who developed the North American Development Bank to help communities that have suffered job losses due to the North American Free Trade Agreement.

In an interview, Hinojosa said Price Pfister is unlikely to operate the foundry again but believes that the development bank can help finance another manufacturer to take over and run it.

"The real question now is finding an alternative owner or manager for the facility so that workers can be maintained," he said.

The bank has up to $3 billion in capital, most of which is dedicated to infrastructure improvements along the U.S.-Mexico border. But Hinojosa said the bank can also provide financing to allow another manufacturer to buy the foundry.

"I think it's a perfect type of opportunity for the bank to get involved in," he said.

A Price Pfister representative who attended the meeting declined to comment, referring all questions to company headquarters in Maryland.

Besides the 300 layoffs, another 900 jobs are in jeopardy as Price Pfister considers moving its remaining operations to a state with lower taxes and less-stringent environmental regulations, the company said.

Alarcon said no decisions were reached at Thursday's meeting. But he said city officials and Price Pfister representatives agreed to form a committee to study job retraining programs as well as a panel to investigate the possibility of finding another firm to take over the foundry.

The two committees will meet again Nov. 14, Alarcon said.

"I think everybody walked away with a positive attitude," he said.

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