Strike action at building materials company could commence at any time
The following is from Teamsters Local 117:
AUBURN, Wash. (April 17, 2023) – Millwork and warehouse workers at Huttig/Woodgrain are poised to strike at the building materials distributor as early as today. The group of 36 Teamsters voted unanimously to approve a Final Strike Vote after a negotiations update meeting at the Teamsters Union Hall in Tukwila on Saturday.
“Teamsters at Huttig are united in not allowing this company to intimidate them and sabotage negotiations over their contract,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117. “With the outcome of this vote, a work stoppage could commence as early as Monday morning. Instead of provoking a strike, disrupting our local economy, and harming working families in our community, Huttig needs to stop violating federal labor law and return to the bargaining table and negotiate an equitable contract with these workers.”
The Union is protesting alleged violations of federal labor law during contract negotiations, including charges of unlawful surveillance and intimidation during a visit to the Huttig facility in Auburn by Larry Brown, an Auburn City Councilmember and former President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO. During the visit with Councilmember Brown, company management shadowed Union Representatives who were inviting workers to attend an upcoming strike authorization vote meeting on March 4.
“When our Union reps came in, management was surveilling us, tracking us down, watching us,” said Trevor Best, a 27-year Huttig employee and Union shop steward who works in the millwork department. “I’ve put a lot of hard work in this place – it’s my life, my livelihood. It’s an insult and disrespectful for the company to treat us this poorly. It’s a slap in the face.”
The Union has filed Unfair Labor Practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board alleging violations of federal labor law, and the Board is investigating the charges.
In 2022, Huttig was acquired in a $350 million all-cash buyout by Woodgrain, an out-of-state millwork company based in Idaho. Since the acquisition, workers have noticed a fundamental shift in how they are treated and say they no longer feel respected in the workplace.
“After the Woodgrain buyout, they told us nothing was going to change, that everything was going to stay status quo. They haven’t held to their word,” said Alex Boynton, a shop steward and seven-year Huttig/Woodgrain employee. “They’ve pushed their agendas and now they’re trying to intimidate us into accepting a substandard contract, but it’s not going to happen.”
Teamsters Local 117 is one of the most powerful, diverse, and dynamic unions in the Pacific Northwest. With more than 17,000 members, we have grown to become the second largest Teamsters local in the country. From accountants to zookeepers, Local 117 members work in a mix of public service and private sector jobs. We keep our economy humming, our streets clean and safe, and our communities strong.