Why 1,500 sheet metal workers are on strike

Apprentice pay is not keeping up with cost of living

SHEET METAL WORKERS are building our region’s future, and they want their families to be a part of it.

That’s why right now 1,500 union sheet metal workers are on strike. They work hard to make mortgage payments, educate their kids, provide good healthcare coverage for their families, and remain in the middle class. Like many hardworking families, our members are fighting to keep pace with an economy that threatens to leave working people behind.

Second-year apprentice Karindia Sanchez knows having a meaningful career in the union building trades is an opportunity to build a brighter future. But she says it’s hard to make the math add up on apprentice pay, and right now she’s struggling to keep up with a growing stack of bills.

We know Karindia is right; pay for apprentices hasn’t kept up with the high cost of living, and that’s on top of the fact that we’re facing the worst income inequality we’ve seen in 100 years.

The contractors could play a leadership role in tackling this problem, by partnering with Local 17 to ensure that as contractors prosper, families and communities do, too.

This is the backdrop for the sheet metal workers’ strike. It’s our insistence that the building boom lift up everyone, including the lowest on the totem pole, no matter their gender, their race, or where they grew up. It allows workers to keep living in the neighborhoods they love; it allows them to provide for their children; and it allows them to buy homes and secure a piece of the American dream.

To do that, we’re investing in the public good by fighting for healthcare coverage for entire families, retirement benefits for workers after a strenuous career, and safety and training programs that invest in our local workforce and keep the public safe, because with the right training, we know it’s done right the first time.

Meet the Author

Bob Butler

Business manager, Sheet Metal Workers Local 17
As always, we remain committed to working together and reaching a deal that works for all of us— our members, our contractors, and our communities.

Bob Butler is the business manager of Sheet Metal Workers Local 17.