Thursday, May 31, 2012

Teamsters Davis Wire picket spreads to CA; workers honor picket lines

Teamster solidarity is a beautiful thing. Local 986 Teamsters are refusing to cross a picket line in California that was set up by their striking brothers in Washington State.

Here's the latest about the strike from Teamsters Local 117:
Workers at a Davis Wire mill in Irwindale honored picket lines that were established on Wednesday night by striking Teamsters in Washington State. Picket lines were set up at the company’s facility at 10 PM.
“Our members are exercising their contractual right to honor a lawful picket line.  Their decision not to cross the line shows that they stand in solidarity with their Teamster brothers in Washington State,” said Christopher Griswold, the Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 986.  Local 986 represents approximately 115 workers at the company’s Irwindale facility (in California). 
The 85 workers at the Kent, WA facility have been without a contract since December 1 of last year.  They went on strike on May 21 to protest a series of unlawful actions by the company. 
“Davis Wire is not treating its workers in Washington State with dignity and respect.  We have come to Irwindale to demand that this company stops breaking the law and improves working conditions inside the mill,” said Larry Dunson, a 28-year employee.
Local 117 has filed Unfair Labor Practices with the NLRB, charging Davis Wire with a dozen violations of federal labor law. The company has bargained in bad faith, spied on and intimidated workers and made illegal threats to shut down the plant.

Davis Wire laid off 27 employees at its facility in Kent, Wash., on May 15. That just happened to be three days after workers voted to authorize a strike. Think those layoffs may have been retaliation (we sure do).

As we reported earlier, the company's indifference to safety caused workers at the Kent mill to break bones and mangle their fingers. Four workers have been killed over the past few years in industrial accidents in plants owned by Davis Wire's parent, Heico Wire Group. Recently, a machine operator was hospitalized after his hand got caught between spinning rollers of a fabric machine.

Davis Wire employees joined a class-action lawsuit charging the company with running a sweatshop and stealing their wages. Employees were pressured to work 12-hour shifts without a break and to eat their lunch while operating dangerous machinery.

Stay strong, brothers and sisters!