Hayesville strike July 7

Union workers sit outside the Custom Hoists, Inc., facility in Hayesville on July 7.

HAYESVILLE — The union representing the Custom Hoists, Inc., workers who went on strike June 14 rejected Custom Hoist's most recent contract proposal Monday.

Custom Hoists will hire replacement workers if the union does not reconsider its most recent offer, president Mike Kuharik wrote in a statement shared with Ashland Source. 

"We believe our last-best offer is well in excess of area averages," Kuharik wrote. "We have done the best we can to resolve this labor dispute and remain competitive. We hope union members will reconsider their position.

"However, at this point we are likely at an impasse and have no choice but to hire replacement workers.”

Custom Hoists declined to provide details about the content of its counterproposal beyond Kuharik's statement, Wright said. 

Union president Chris Hines said the company's counterproposal did not sufficiently address worker demands, which included evening out the two-tier pay scale, receiving better insurance coverage and improving working conditions. 

“What is so sad, and what is so pathetic, and what is so, I’m sorry, but almost unforgivable, is to have a company not listen and just say here’s what we have," Hines said.

Hayesville strike July 7

A sign posted outside the Custom Hoists facility in Hayesville reads "time for a fair contract."

Hines said he and the workers, represented by United Steelworkers Local 7008, want to talk with the company but the two entities have reached an apparent deadlock. 

"I believe I'm dealing with a company right now that has a larger agenda, doesn't care about the United States," Hines said. 

The workers went on strike after voting down the initial contract Custom Hoists offered in June.

Hines, Brian Sealy (staff representative for United Steelworkers District 1) and Custom Hoists representatives met via Zoom on June 24 to discuss union strike demands ahead of the union submitting a proposal.

After the union submitted a proposal to Custom Hoists last week, Custom Hoists submitted its counter proposal to the union on July 10, said Brian Wright, public relations for Custom Hoists. 

The union brought the counter proposal to its membership Monday for a vote and rejected the counter proposal in a 55 no, 15 yes vote, union president Chris Hines said. 

Sealy could not be reached for comment at the time of publication. 

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.