More than 100 Union workers on strike at Elkhart Company

NOW: More than 100 Union workers on strike at Elkhart Company

ELKHART, Ind., --- Amid a nationwide worker shortage expert said strikes and walkouts are on the rise as employees fight for more money and better conditions, and it’s happening in Elkhart at the Elkhart Products Corporation where employees there are on strike demanding better benefits.

For the first time since 1968 the International Association of Machinist and Aerospace Workers Union told ABC57 more than 100 employees are now on strike at the Elkhart Products Corporation asking for higher wages and better benefits.

“A $0.50 raise is like a slap in the face for us. For the people that’s been here longer than five years,” said Dee Kannapel, an Employee at Elkhart Products Corporation.

Kannapel has been working with corporation, that makes pipes and plumbing material for more than 25 years and on Monday she joined 110 Union employees on strike, pushing for better benefits in their contract.

“Better benefit package, better insurance you know they took away our perfect attendance money that we would get every month if we show up for work,” said Kannapel.

“We’re striking the company because that proposal included a 15% copay for medical insurance as well as only a $0.50 cent raise which would put all these members $70 short a week on their check,” added David Gault a Business Rep, with the International Association of Machinist and Aerospace Workers Union at the Local Lodge 2018.

The local union is among one of the largest and most diverse in the nation.

The strike comes amid a rise in walkouts and strikes nationwide, with the White House reaching an agreement to avoid a major strike with railroad workers just last week.

Experts said with workers in high demand employees are coming out of the pandemic pushing for more.

“More folks are trying to find that right work life balance, making sure the work they are doing not only provides for their family but allows them to be there and partake in those things they’re providing,” explained Levon Johnson, President & CEO with the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce

The Elkhart Products Corporation responded to the strike saying in a statement:

After several months of bargaining in good faith, we presented a package that allowed employees to maintain coverage under the Union’s health plan despite an unprecedented 60% hike in premiums. We are disappointed by the Union’s decision to strike, but are committed to ongoing discussions and are hopeful that an agreement can still be reached.

Union employees on strike at the corporation said they won't return to work until they get what they feel they deserve.

“We’re just going to stay strong until this thing ends, we’re not going to give in,” said Denna Brown another Employee with the corporation.  

“The goal is everybody wants more money that’s the number one goal, but show some respect, you know make us feel appreciated,” added Kannapel.

The union said they plan to share a new proposal with their all demands with the corporation Monday.

However, with more than half of the company’s employees on strike it’s still unclear on how the move is impacting production.

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