“The way feel as the trades people is that an attack on one is an attack on all,” said Eran Molz, President of the Upper Ohio Valley Building and Construction Trades. We look at people as the machinists are our union brothers and sisters.”
Dozens of members from other area unions agree, which is why they joined employees of Tecnocap for a solidarity rally on Tuesday.
Employees have been on strike since April 9, after unanimously voting down a contract and unanimously voting to strike.
A union spokesperson said that a meeting between both sides will happen very soon, but until then union members on strike aren’t backing down.
They said Tecnocap is refusing to bargain in good faith, and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers has filed an unfair labor practice charge.
“It’s been rough for people.” said Harlen Smith, a member of IAMAW who is on strike. “They had to tap into their life savings to cover their costs and pay since then.”
Since the strike began, around 30 members of IAMAW Local 818 District 54 have stood in the cold, rain, and heat outside of Tecnocap fighting for a fair contract.
“At the heart of this was they wanted to take one third of our membership and transfer them to the other union that’s inside the facility,” said IAMAW spokesperson John Carr. “Immediately that would result in those members, an increase of 50 percent in their healthcare insurance.”
Carr said that during the strike workers from other countries and other states have been brought in to fill these skilled positions, but union members stand firm.
“We hope it will be resolved soon, but we are all willing to stay out here the length that we need to to get this done,” Smith said.
Fellow unions came to support their brothers and sisters during the rally, saying if it can happen to IAMAW, it can happen to any union.
“We’ve lost a lot of local jobs to companies out of Louisiana and Alabama, different areas like that, that don’t even pay income taxes here,” Molz continued. “We do see that happening here and we may get to the point in the state where all the trade workers are sitting here the same as machinists fighting for our jobs. It is a scary thought.”
Others feel the state could possibly do more.
“Right to work has brought some of these issues on,” said Andy Walters, Secretary-Treasurer of the West Virginia AFL-CIO. “Right to work has been pushed through the legislation of West Virginia and it’s been a slow attack on all of us and we’re fighting back together.”
While they wait for a fair contract, union members are thankful for the support.
“It’s like a family, it really is,” Smith said. “I’m very grateful for having all the support from the community and everyone here.”
7News reached out to Tecnocap for comment and have left several messages, but have yet to hear back.