PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Allegheny County Council declared W&K Steel a sweat shop this week.
It’s the first time that designation has been placed on a local business.
The company calls the claims outrageous and now county council is rethinking the move.
KDKA Investigator Marty Griffin walked through the building with company owners Celeste and Ed Wilhelm on Thursday.
“I think devastation was the first emotion, then anger,” Celeste Wilhelm said. “We need to fight this injustice.”
County council members heard damaging testimony this week about numerous Occupational Safety and Health Administration violations, unsafe working conditions and a death at an off-site job.
Those claims, county council members say, forced them to make a tough decision to declare W&K a sweat shop.
“We have one of the safest shops in the United States,” Ed Wilhelm said. “I can’t stand those rumors.”
Then there’s the allegation of illegal workers. The business has five Burmese refugees. The KDKA Investigators checked and not one of them was illegal.
The OSHA complaints against the company have been resolved. Fines of under $5,000 were paid.
KDKA Investigator Marty Griffin brought the information to County Council President Rich Fitzgerald late Thursday afternoon.
“We want this plant to do well, we want these workers in safe conditions,” Fitzgerald said.