On the Picket Line

California sheet metal workers end strike, cite gains

By Joel Britton
October 21, 2019

STOCKTON, Calif. — After 26 days on strike, workers voted Oct. 1 to approve a new contract with Simpson Strong-Tie, a maker of metal parts used in the building and construction industries. Three hundred and nineteen workers at the plant had been on strike since Sept. 5.

“Most important, we kept our medical and pensions,” Jose Rojo told the Militant  at the plant gate Oct. 4. The company backed away from earlier demands that workers contribute to long-standing, fully-paid medical premiums.

The strike featured mass picketing by members and supporters of the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers Local 104. The company hired some strikebreakers but not a single striker crossed the picket line. Teamster delivery drivers refused to drive through the picket lines and Building Trades unions donated supplies and money to the striking workers.

The four-year contract includes annual wage increases from 70 to 75 cents an hour.

“We wanted to get more,” John Henry told the Militant. “The cost of living is going up. Rents have gone up hundreds of dollars in the past three years.

“What gets me is the gap between how much money these companies make and what they pay us. The greed, it’s getting worse. We were just trying to get a little more, a little extra, to pay the bills and so we can afford to take the family to the amusement park.”