Graniterock exec Jack Leemaster (in truck) and striking worker Frank Gonzales at the Aromas plant Aug. 19. (Dan Pulcrano photo)
Fifty-six union members work at the Aromas quarry, which is so big it’s referred to as the “Bermuda triangle” and sits at the intersection of four counties: Monterey, San Benito, Santa Cruz and Santa Clara. Employees say they’ve been without a contract for two years and that the company has been trying to get the employees to disclaim the union, with little success.
On Friday, the union voted 50-3 to be represented. “I offered to meet with them Monday morning and gave them a 10am Saturday deadline,” said Local 3’s Pete Figueiredo. “They responded that they wouldn’t meet with us on Monday. We made a decision to see if we could motivate them.
“We have eight agreements with Graniterock. Seven of them are currently expired. The company has refused to meet and bargain with us,” Figueiredo said.
Unions participating in the work stoppage include Teamsters, Machinists, Operating Engineers and Laborers.
Graniterock’s Severson says the union action harms union-member employees who need to provide for their families. The company called the work stoppage “counterproductive” and said it is “disappointed that the Union has resorted to picketing rather than constructive negotiation.”
“The company will work to resolve the issues and return people to work,” Severson said.
Figueiredo says the strike is sanctioned by the South Bay Labor Council and the Santa Clara/San Benito Counties Building & Construction Trades Council.
Depending on how it goes, the back-to-basics picketing action could influence the fortunes of a local labor council that has been losing ground politically. Trounced at the polls in June for getting on the wrong side of a popular municipal pension reform movement and attempting a payback strategy to punish reform supporters on the San Jose City Council, the SBLC may have better luck with employee organizing and company shutdowns.
With a regional uptick in construction and road repairs, targeting the 700-employee company that’s one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s major suppliers of aggregate materials will ripple through the economy if the strike’s not resolved soon.