For above a decade, ironworkers at the Erie Strayer Business in Pennsylvania have been pushing for a dental approach, but the company refuses to budge. It was taken off the desk throughout negotiations for the previous two 5-12 months contracts, and this year, the corporation has at the time all over again refused the proposal.
How poorly do these workers need dental?
“I’ve witnessed a worker welding with a swollen facial area and an ice pack. Another guy questioned for my needle-nose pliers and pulled his have tooth in front of me,” claims Glenn Ybanez, one of the Erie Strayer ironworkers who has now been on strike for ten months.
The Iron Workers Regional Shop Neighborhood 851 began negotiating a new agreement with Erie Strayer in March of this year, and their prior deal expired in April. They want a 3 % increase, which amounts to all around 60 cents an hour — a modest proposal in a instant when inflation is jogging very well previously mentioned that fee — and dental, which would expense the company approximately another 3 percent.
But Erie Strayer has no fascination in the needs of these staff, who make an regular of $19.10 an hour to create significant-batch concrete-creating equipment. In spite of the superior ability necessary for these types of labor, the union suggests they make considerably less than the location median wage. Instead of accepting the workers’ proposals, the organization offered a nickel-an-hour elevate for the initially yr of the deal and no dental, provoking the strike.
“My spouse and I are attempting to figure out how we’ll come up with income to buy our little ones Christmas presents for the reason that the enterprise states I’m not really worth much more than a nickel,” said Tim Donnell, just one of the strikers. “Meanwhile, they’ve obtained no difficulty expending dollars on landscaping jobs.”
“They ended up offering almost nothing in the to start with calendar year, 5 cents in the next 12 months, and 5 or 10 cents in the third yr,” claims Local 851 vice president and business consultant Tracy Cutright. “The complete point amounted to much less than 90 cents around the 5-calendar year contract. We took a strike vote in September, and we went on strike on Oct 4.”
Cutright suggests personnel also want a 3-year, instead than 5-calendar year, contract, supplied that the latter locks them in for considerably far too prolonged, leaving them unable to enact substantially-necessary adjustments. Additional, the personnel are pushing for a change in the company’s draconian attendance coverage.
Personnel at the moment get a few times for bereavement, for example, but they have to call into a call middle to report their absence on each individual 1 of these days. Failure to do so is regarded a no contact, no exhibit, and docks them attendance details. “I’ve had men and women in the unexpected emergency area have to get in touch with from the ICU,” suggests Cutright.
When the strike began, it encompassed forty-two staff. In the weeks considering the fact that, many workers have give up or retired, and five have crossed the picket line, leaving twenty-8 ironworkers manning the 24/7 picket line (they say that if you’d like to assist them, you can cease by the line at 1851 Rudolph Avenue in Erie or donate to their strike fund). Despite the duration of the strike, the personnel believe that the enterprise has only been in a position to use, at most, two replacements, a shortage that workers attribute to the company’s very low wages as nicely as common regional assist for labor, which will make the prospect of scabbing unacceptably shameful to potential hires.
“The company’s mantra early on was ‘We’re not fascinated in shelling out GE [now Wabtec] wages.’ Perfectly, they’re not even in the similar ballpark as GE,” claims Cutright. The plant ran seven times a 7 days by way of the pandemic, and did not deficiency for contracts. Erie Strayer also obtained a $1.2 million Paycheck Safety Plan grant for payroll.
“I shouldn’t have to pick out between paying out time with my spouse and children or earning sufficient to make ends meet,” mentioned David Miller, a single of the strikers. “Working forty hours a week must be enough, but I can not cover the mortgage loan and provide for my loved ones on my common income. The corporation is familiar with we simply cannot make finishes satisfy on our frequent wage. Instead of providing us a decent raise, they force us to work further several hours — in some cases seven times for every 7 days. It feels like financial blackmail.”
3 bargaining periods have taken spot since the strike started, but Erie Strayer stays intransigent.
“We bargained this 7 days and they put across an supply of 25 cents a 12 months for five a long time, no dental, no back again fork out, no signing bonus, no changes to the attendance coverage,” states Cutright. The following bargaining session is scheduled for December 17. Group support remains regular, with locals halting by to sign up for the picket line or donate foods and drinks. Other unions, too, have been reinforcing the line, and a rally final month saw community and state-level elected officials in attendance as effectively. As for the strikers, they’re organized for the lengthy haul.
“They’re in it all the way,” states Cutright. “It can be chilly. It can be pouring down rain. They say, ‘We really do not treatment. We’re in this article.’”