PITTSBURGH — After 75 days on strike, the 40 members of Ironworkers Regional Shop Local 851 at Erie Strayer Company approved a new contract Dec. 19. It includes a dental plan for the first time and higher wage raises than the company initially offered. The Erie plant produces concrete-making machinery used on large construction sites.
The contract includes wage increases of 56 cents per hour for the first year and 40 cents for each of the following four years. The unionists had rejected the company’s initial five-year contract offer of 5 cents to 15 cents an hour. Other issues were left unresolved, including a requirement that workers call in every day for any absence and bereavement.
Key to the victory was the continual mobilization of the membership and solidarity from other unions and the community, Ironworkers Amalgamated Local 841 Vice President Tracy Cutright told the Militant in a phone interview. United Electrical union members from Wabtec, who fought their own strike battle in 2019, organized a rally in support and their members were a regular presence on the picket line. Other unions in the area from roofers to Teamsters brought donations of food and drink. Seven unions joined a Nov. 18 solidarity march.
Cutright reported that with union members back on the job, the bosses are trying to enforce rules that they never enforced before and inventing new ones. “We’re fighting all of it,” he said.