On the Picket Line

Calif. sheet metal workers walk out over low pay, health care

By Joel Britton
October 14, 2019
Militant/Carole LesnickSheet Metal Workers Local 104 members picket Simpson Strong-Tie in Stockton, California, Sept. 23 in strike over company attacks on pensions, health care and wages.

STOCKTON, Calif. — More than 250 members of the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers Local 104 on strike against Simpson Strong-Tie here overwhelmingly voted down what workers said was the company’s “last, best and final contract offer” Sept. 23. The strike began Sept. 5. In dispute are company attacks on pensions, health care benefits and wages.

“We are super underpaid,” Santos Fuentes, a machine operator, told the Militant on the picket line. Strikers said since the strike began, the company has backed away from demanding that workers contribute to their medical, dental and vision premiums, but refuse to raise their pay offer from less than 75 cents an hour in each year of the new contract.

This is the first walkout at the plant since 2007. Simpson Strong-Tie makes metal parts used in the building and construction industries.

Strikers have won broad support from workers in the area, as well as involving many workers’ family members.