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Striking Sherwin Williams workers hope for contract talks progress

Workers seek a 4% pay increase, more benefits
Striking Sherwin Williams workers are hoping for contract talks progress
Striking Sherwin Williams workers are hoping for contract talks progress
Posted at 10:45 PM, Mar 02, 2022

BEDFORD HEIGHTS, Ohio — Dozens of striking Sherwin Williams workers at the Bedford Heights aerosol plant said they're hoping the company will be more responsive during contract talks in the coming days.

Workers at the facility have been off the job for the past four weeks and have been without a new contract since last November. United Steelworkers Local 14919 told News 5 the employees are only asking for a 4% cost-of-living pay increase and better pension and attendance policy benefits.

Jeanette Gale, who has worked at the facility for 9-years, told News 5 the average wage of $22-an-hour is simply not enough to keep pace with pandemic-related price hikes. Gale said the 50 cent-an-hour raise they received two years ago was little help.

“It’s very tough, everything has skyrocketed in price, I mean groceries, gas, everything is so high," Gale said.

“Our CEO makes so much money, it should be spread out more, you have people who are helping you to get to the position to make that type of money, and that you don’t care about how they’re living an how they’re making it. And I don’t know if it’s that you’re just disconnected with the people.”

Caitlin Johnson, Communications Director with Policy Matters Ohio pointed out the Sherwin Williams CEO's annual salary in its pay disparity report issued in Dec. 2021, showing the CEO made more than $15 million in 2020, according to federal data from the Securities and Exchange Commission. At the same time, Johnson said the data showed the average Sherwin Williams employee was paid just over $46,000 per year.

“It’s really hard to understand how a corporation that has done so well in Ohio is refusing to do right by Ohio," Johnson said. “The corporation is saying they can’t afford to give the workers who are out on strike a 4% raise, but yet they’re able to pay their CEO 327 times what they pay the typical worker.”

Meanwhile, Terrell Williams, Pres. of USW local 14919 told News 5 contract talks with the company have stalled.

“We’re having issues on wages, we’re having issues on the pension plan and issues on our attendance policies," Williams said. “All we do is go back to the table, we put in a proposal, we sit there we wait, we get no response back, we just keep waiting. The only vibe I get is the word 'no' and try better."

Sherwin Williams corporate headquarters responded immediately to our story and issued the following statement:

Sherwin-Williams continues to be available to meet regularly with representatives from the United Steelworkers Union Local #14919 and has additional meetings scheduled over the next couple of weeks  The Company has engaged in good faith bargaining since negotiations started in October, 2021 and remains committed to reaching a satisfactory agreement for both parties.

Julie S. Young Vice President, Global Corporate Communications

Striking workers told News 5 contract talks are set to resume on March 2.