Custom Hoists union workers strike

Custom Hoists, Inc., union workers on strike outside the Hayesville facility on June 29.

HAYESVILLE -- The union representing Custom Hoists workers who went on strike June 14 will deliver a new contract proposal to the company on Friday or Saturday, said Brian Sealy, staff representative for United Steelworkers District 1.

“Hopefully, they’ll take a look at it, and they either accept or they propose something different back to us,” Sealy said.

The workers, represented by United Steelworkers Local 7008, voted down the contract Custom Hoists offered last month and have since been on strike with three key demands: evening out the two-tier pay scale, receiving better insurance coverage and improving working conditions. 

Custom Hoists union workers on strike

Union workers sit outside under tents on June 29. 

Sealy declined to provide details about the counter proposal the union is drafting, but said the aforementioned points of contention remain priorities. 

“Our intention is to get back to work,” Sealy said.

Brian Wright, public relations for Custom Hoists, said the company is unable to take any actions on its end until it receives the union’s proposal. With the proposal forthcoming, Wright said he is hopeful progress will soon be made.

Custom Hoists declined to provide details about the discussions between its attorney and union representatives. 

“We’re looking forward to receiving the proposal and hopefully bringing this to a speedy resolution,” Wright said. 

Although the first formal correspondence on behalf of the union is still forthcoming, Sealy said he has been informally in contact with the company’s attorney via email, conference calls and video calls. 

Sealy and company representatives met via Zoom on June 24 to discuss union strike demands ahead of the union submitting a proposal, Sealy said. 

Through negotiations to come, the union seeks to even out the two-tier pay system, or to allow those in the bottom tier opportunities to move into the top tier, Sealy said. 

The two-tier structure went into effect roughly a decade ago, meaning those who started working with the company before it implemented the two-tier system receive higher wages than those who started after. 

Union workers have previously detailed concerns about working conditions and insurance. 

Workers striking outside the facility the week of June 28 directed interview requests to union president Chris Hines, who has not responded to Ashland Source interview requests since June 16. 

Custom Hoists Inc. is a hydraulic cylinder manufacturing company in Ashland County, near Hillsdale Elementary School. The company also has a facility in Tianjin, China.

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Emma Davis is a 2021 graduate of the University of Richmond, from which she holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and leadership studies. Emma reports for Knox Pages and Ashland Source through Report for America.

Emma Davis is a 2021 graduate of the University of Richmond, from which she holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and leadership studies. Emma reports for Knox Pages and Ashland Source through Report for America.