MCKEES ROCKS (KDKA) – Echoes of political demonstrations in Wisconsin are happening in McKees Rocks.
A strike at a local company has union leaders talking about union busting and company owners talking about skyrocketing pension and healthcare costs.
The General Wire Spring Company has been a fixture in the area for 81years.
Now, the employees claim they’ve been locked out. The company is calling it a strike and both sides are divided over issues discussed nationwide these days.
There was solidarity outside the business Monday as 100 workers were convinced they are getting a raw deal from management.
“The issue is, this company is profitable. They just want to take off of the workers so they can be more profitable,” union member Charlie Leanor said.
Inside the building, a single machine with a single employee, who didn’t want to be identified, was working. They were trying to keep the business running and hoping the labor dispute would be settled soon.
Management said the issues are healthcare, pensions and wages. The company said it asked employees to pay for more of their healthcare, but offered more toward the pension and a small raise.
“We preserved the pension at a very high cost. We have not passed on a lion’s share of the healthcare. We are currently paying 83 percent,” Michael Silverman said.
Employees are standing firm. They claim the company is making too much money and that they should share in more of the profits.
They also claim the company is jumping on a nationwide swing of anti-union sentiment.
“All you need to do is look to the climate. Look to Wisconsin, look to Ohio. Someone, somewhere thinks this is the time to crush the unions and it’s not [going to] happen,” Leanor said.
Company owners said an extended strike may force them to lay off employees for the first time in 81 years. They also said this work dispute has nothing to do with what’s going on in Wisconsin.
They said the doors are open and workers are welcome to come back right now.
Employees said they are willing to go back to the bargaining table immediately.