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West Virginia Machinists strike for fair contract

6 October, 2021Fifty members of IndustriALL Global Union affiliate the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers are on strike for a fair contract at Sulzer Pumps, in Barboursville, West Virginia, USA.

Members of Machinists Union Local 598 (District 54) began their strike at midnight on Friday, 1 October. Members are now on the picket line outside the facility at 1305 Main Street.

“Sometimes you have to take to Main Street to get Wall Street to listen”, commented a union spokesperson.

Machining and foundry workers voted overwhelmingly to reject what the company called “final offer” and to go on strike after company management refused to respect rights accrued through long years of service at the company. The company is seeking to hamper seniority rights at the facility that protect good jobs in the Barboursville community. 

Machinists’ District 54 president T. Dean Wright, Jr, said:

“Machinists Union members at Sulzer Pumps are simply asking for the company to negotiate a fair contract.  Our members are taking a stand for their families and their community by demanding this company treat its employees with respect regarding their seniority with their employer. It is our sincere hope that Sulzer management realizes the importance of its dedicated workers.”

IndustriALL general secretary Atle Høie sent a message of solidarity to the union, saying:

“It is imperative that Sulzer Pumps desist from seeking to seriously undermine seniority rights, and return to the negotiating table with IAM members at Local 598.

“IndustriALL Global Union is fully committed to supporting your struggle to protect the fundamental labour rights of the IAM members of Local 598 at Sulzer Pumps in Barboursville.

“Stay strong; you are not alone!”

IndustriALL Global Union informed other unions around the world with members in Sulzer, including Swiss trade union Unia, who mentioned the dispute in their newsletter.

Sulzer Pumps is a Swiss-headquartered, publicly-traded multinational industrial engineering company that designs and manufactures pumps, compressors and related equipment. The Barboursville site is a manufacturing centre with a foundry that produces replacement parts for pumps.