USW Members Fight For Fair Contract At Sherwin-Williams

Members of Local 14919, who have been on an unfair labor practice strike against Sherwin-Williams since Feb. 5, this month took their fight for a fair contract to the public.

The 55 workers, who make spray paint and other products at the company’s Bedford Heights, Ohio, aerosol can plant, on March 25 welcomed U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown to their picket line (pictured below). Sen. Brown rallied with the Local 14919 strikers, elected union leaders, retirees and supporters in support of the local’s struggle for a fair contract.

The group also conducted a night-time informational picket outside the Cavaliers-Lakers basketball game in Cleveland. USW Strategic Campaigns used the bat light to shine the “Fair Contract Now at Sherwin-Williams” message on the fieldhouse.

Negotiations started Oct. 28, 2021, and the contract ended Nov. 20, 2021. Local 14919 members worked for months without a contract before the strike because the company refused to extend the existing agreement.

Negotiations have continued, and the local met with the company several times in February and March. At the end of February, the local union brought in a federal mediator.

Local 14919 President Terrell Williams said that “Sherwin-Williams is not bargaining in the traditional sense” to the point that even with a mediator involved, the company remains deeply entrenched.

Pictured: Local Union 14919 members on the picket line at Sherwin-Williams’ Bedford Heights, Ohio, plant.

While the biggest concerns are the company’s failure to bargain, wages, pensions and the attendance policy, “the company wants to bundle its non-economic and economic proposals together, and have us take all or nothing. That’s not negotiating,” Williams added.

Before Sherwin-Williams’ failure to bargain forced out Local 14919, Williams said workers were asked to take on excessive overtime on assembly lines in production, the filling department and in shipping and receiving. In January, they logged 60-70 hours, six days a week, with a couple of 12-hour shifts every few days.

“We knew the company was building the stock up,” Williams said. “It didn’t make any sense other than a plan to bust the union.”

Sherwin-Williams plans to invest more than $600 million for a new headquarters complex and state-of-the-art research and development center. Williams said the company also needs to invest in its workers, since their labor makes the funding for the investment possible.

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