Pickets lined the road to the Pennwest Homes in
a manufactured homes factory, starting at 6:00 a.m. Monday for the first time
in the plant’s ten-year history after contract talks failed on Saturday. Emlenton, PA
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW), Local 2439, represent the workforce.
“IAMAW has begun a work stoppage against Pennwest Homes in Emlenton,” stated an IAMAW news release on Monday. “The last, best and final offer made by Pennwest Homes was rejected in a vote of the Local’s membership on Saturday morning.”
Union Business Representative Robert D. Miller said the 117 union members are seeking a living wage, a reasonable pension package, and the ability to share in the company’s growth.
“This is about these workers making a wage they can support their family on. The workers want a pension they can retire on,” said Miller. “These workers built this company and want to share in the growth of the company.”
The local union chapter has contacted the Pennwest Homes management and said it is ready and willing to meet with the ownership as soon as possible to negotiate a contract that is beneficial to all involved.
Picketing will continue on Route 38 outside the road to Pennwest seven days a week until contract negotiations are resolved, according to Miller.
Pennwest Homes was launched in 2005, bringing together the latest home-building technologies, a dedicated management team, and an experienced builder network.
“The average salary in this plant is the same as the national poverty level for a family of four,” said Michael. “I don’t want to get into specific numbers, but that’s where were at. They didn’t offer us an increase in pay, and it was basically another three-year contract without an increase. We love our jobs and what we do here. We just need a basic living wage. We have guys who have been here for 10 years, have kids, and stuff and basically can’t pay bills and can’t pay mortgages. For skilled labor and the product that we put out here at Pennwest Homes, we feel that’s just unacceptable.”
“I’m very proud of our union,” continued Michael. “I’m very proud of these guys. They finally stood up and said enough is enough. A lot of these guys are living hand to mouth, paycheck to paycheck, and this hurts everybody. We want to go back to work. We want to work, but that isn’t the issue. The issue is we don’t want to work for poverty level wages. We just can’t do it.”
Barry Shein, owner and CEO of the Commodore Corporation, provides leadership at Pennwest Homes.
Pennwest generates an estimated $28 million in annual revenues, and employs approximately 170 people at this single location.