Custom Hoists threaten to hire replacements for strikers at Ashland, Ohio plant
Custom Hoists management is threatening to replace 70 strikers at its Ashland, Ohio plant after workers overwhelmingly rejected the company’s latest offer on Monday. Company officials are demanding that steelworkers vote again on the offer, which was rejected by 55 to 15 votes.
Custom Hoists produces hydraulic cylinders for heavy industrial vehicles and machinery. It has an estimated annual turnover of $ 34 million and is a subsidiary of Standex International, which had a turnover of over $ 604 million in 2020. Custom Hoists is a global company with one other facility in Tianjin, China, and operates warehouses and service centers in Europe. .
The strike began on June 13, after workers at the plant rejected the initial contract negotiated between the United Steelworkers and Custom Hoists by 66 votes to 2.
Workers are fighting for an end to the two tier pay system, better insurance coverage and better working conditions. Reports say new hires are paid up to $ 6 an hour less than older employees doing the same job.
The problems behind the strike, the repeated rejection by workers of union-backed contracts and the company’s demand that workers either vote on the same contract again or face strike-breaking operations are closely linked to the month-long strike at Volvo Trucks in Dublin, Virginia.
After Volvo workers rejected a third consecutive contract backed by United Auto Workers, Volvo Trucks responded by unilaterally seeking to enforce the contract, while the UAW forced workers to vote again on the same contract they did. had just rejected. The UAW said the contract was passed in the new 17 ballot vote, under conditions where workers widely suspect voter fraud.
“We believe our latest offering is well above the region’s averages,” Custom Hoists president Mike Kuharik wrote in a statement. “We have done our best to resolve this labor dispute and remain competitive. We hope that union members will reconsider their position.
“However, at this point we are probably at a stalemate and have no choice but to hire replacement workers.”
Company officials declined to disclose details of the contract offer, saying that it was the “latest and best offer” they would make.
“What is so sad, and what is so pathetic, and what is so, I’m sorry, but almost unforgivable, is that a company doesn’t listen and just say what we have,” Chise Hines, President of United Steelworkers Local 7008. , said to Source of Ashland.
But despite the workers’ determination to fight for better wages and working conditions, the United Steelworkers are deliberately trying to isolate and starve the strikers. The union has not even mentioned the strike on its website, nor raised its support for the strike, even among other Steelworkers who are also on strike.
While the USW has some $ 1.5 billion in assets and over $ 165 million in its strike fund, workers at Custom Hoists went without strike pay for the first four weeks and will now only begin to receive that about $ 150 per week.
Just last week, the United Steelworkers called off 1,300 steelworkers’ strike against Allegheny Technologies in the northeastern United States after the union claimed a contract sanctioning hundreds of layoffs was passed by a vote of the members. However, the USW refused to disclose the vote totals.
More than 650 Texas oil and refinery workers, who are also members of the USW, have been locked out by ExxonMobil for more than two months.
The attempt to isolate the struggles of the workers, however, is not limited to the USW, but has become a hallmark of the union bureaucracy as a whole. At Warrior Met Coal, the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) used rogue tactics against the opposition. The Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) has refused to pay strike pay to 700 nurses who opposed dangerous staffing ratios.
At the New River Valley (NRV) plant in Dublin, Virginia, Volvo Trucks workers responded to a strikebreaker operation against their UAW strike by forming the Volvo Workers Rank-and-File Committee ( VWRFC), which was instrumental in mobilizing the opposition within Volvo. workers and to break the blackout of their struggle imposed by the unions.
The formation of the VWRFC shows that it is possible for workers to break free from the isolation and concessions imposed for decades by official union bureaucracies. the World Socialist Website encourages Custom Hoists workers to contact us for help setting up a committee in their workplace and to contact other striking workers to relate their struggles.