Topeka, Manhattan sheet metal workers on strike
TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Dozens of area sheet metal workers are on the picket line.
About 80 members of Sheet Metal Workers Local 2 went on strike July 1. Greg Chastain, business manager for the union, said they were unable to reach a work agreement with seven Topeka and Manhattan area contractors: McElroys, Stevenson Co., Custom Sheet Metal, Mid-America Water and Plumbing, U.S. Engineering, P1 Group, and Kruse Mechanical. Several union members held picket signs Thursday along the sidewalk outside McElroys on South Topeka Blvd.
Chastain said wages are the main sticking point in negotiations. He said union members have been essential workers throughout this pandemic, taking on jobs such as installing additional ventilation ductwork for health care facilities caring for COVID patients. He said they just want to be compensated fairly for their efforts.
Workers demonstrating in Topeka agreed.
“We’re just trying to get our contract right and go to work,” Jake Russell said. “We’re not asking for the world, but for a decent contract. That’s it.”
McElroy’s president Dan Beal says they appreciate their sheet metal workers, and hope to have them back to work soon.
“We want our customers to know they can continue to trust McElroy’s for the high-quality services we’ve been providing for nearly 70 years,” Beal told 13 NEWS. “We’re hopeful that the contractors and the union will come to agreement soon, and together we’ll continue serving our community for decades to come.”
Beal said the strike is not impacting their air conditioning, plumbing, pipe-fitting or electrical services. He says, so far, they’ve been able to use available resources to meet immediate needs on projects affected by the workers being off the job.
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