Crew of nonunion ironworkers goes on unfair labor practice strike at Instafab


Insta Fab strike

A group of young nonunion ironworkers has launched an unfair labor practice strike against their employer, Instafab Company, a steel fabrication and erection company based in Vancouver, Wash.

The workers decided to take a stand against their employer after years of feeling ignored and disrespected. On Feb. 27, five employees—a job superintendent with eight years at the company, a foreman, and three field ironworkers—approached their boss with a list of demands. They asked for drinking water and a dry shack on every job site, consistent meal and rest breaks, safety equipment and training, a company-paid medical plan, retirement benefits, area standard wages, and overtime pay when applicable.

When the owner refused to listen, the men issued a strike notice. When they followed through with the walkout, they were fired.

Two more ironworkers joined the strike a couple weeks later, and they too were terminated.

Another worker came on board in April, bringing the count to eight striking workers (in a crew of 13). They range in age from 20 to 38. Two are veterans, with service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Together they have reached out to the community for support. They also approached Iron Workers Local 29 seeking representation. The union filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board on their behalf, alleging the employer retaliated against them for engaging in protected concerted activity. The case is pending.

And because Instafab is a primary subcontractor for Andersen Construction and Skanska USA Building on “union” jobsites, the striking ironworkers are asking for support from other building trades members.

“A lot of the other trades don’t know that Instafab is non-union,” said Robert Camarillo, a Local 29 union rep.

Since the strike began, picketing and leafletting have taken place at Block 67—the Burnside Bridgehead apartment project in Portland; at an apartment project in the Pearl District’s Block 17;  at The Landing Drive Project in Southwest Portland; and at the Pringle Square project in Salem. [Skanska contracted with Instafab to fabricate and erect steel for the new Banfield Pet Hospital headquarters building/campus in Vancouver.]

Several religious organizations have sent letters to the general contractors asking them to look into the labor practices of Instafab. And last month, several ironworkers were able to tell their story to U.S Sen. Jeff Merkley.

The striking ironworkers told the Labor Press they are paid anywhere from $13.25 (new hires) to $25 an hour. They don’t have a pension plan, and the employer doesn’t match 401(k) contributions. One employee showed a pay stub in which pay was deducted for a safety harness. They also pay a majority of their monthly health insurance premium on a plan that carries a $20,000 deductible.

“This company has exploited these workers for a very long time, and they’ve had enough, Camarillo said. “The workers are demanding from the owner that he treat them fairly, with respect, and acknowledge their desire to be represented by the Iron Workers.”



  1. It would be nice if before publishing this article they got the facts straight! There are so many lies being told. The health insurance deductible is 2000.00 not 20,000.00 which is typical of many health plans being offered by companies since the implementation of Obama care. The employees that were charged for safety harnesses chose to be charged to get a harness of their choosing not the one supplied to them. They have since been reimbursed. They are supplied water and are paid most times union wages without paying union dues. This is America if you don’t like your job, find a new one! This is not Justice! This is slander and you should be ashamed of yourselves!

    • PS The employees were not fired! They did not report to work for several days, this is an at will state, how many employers would let you keep your job if you did not call or show up?

  2. Kray,

    What is your relation to Mr. Perkins or his company?

    And we’re very sorry to inform you, but whistle blowing is not considered slander.

    Are you 1 of the 14 striking IFC workers?

    Do you even work for this company, and if you do what department are you?

    How long have you worked for Bruce and Will?

    Our time at IFC ranges anywhere from 3 months to over 8 years. 1 Field Superintendent, 2 Field Forman, and 6 field Iron Workers with an average of 2 years at IFC. In addition, today 4 of the fabrication employees went on strike against the mistreatment and exploitation of workers in the shop.

    What evidence do you have to substantiate your claim that we’re slandering IFC, and criticizing our pursuit for better working conditions and benefits?

    Are you even aware that 4 experienced shop workers and 1 other field worker went on strike this morning?

    Sure sounds like a great company to work for huh?

    How about you bring all your facts and we bring all our facts and get together somewhere for coffee, so we can share our stories with you before you criticize our efforts for justice and safer working conditions?

    Then we can discuss what you think is slander?

    • Concerned Citizen

      DIY guy

      striking instafab employee

      Where are you guys? I thought that we were having a fairly meaningful conversation? You have some things to say that I want to hear.

  3. Kray, what is an address we can we email you our check stubs, so you can see for yourself that we do NOT earn union wages?

    When is the last time you been to one of our jobs and saw water provided by IFC?

    IFC has NEVER provided the field Ironworkers drinking water! That’s a vicious lie!!

    What about all the safety credentials we were issued that never took place?

    What do you know about that?

    Do you know why we were charged for the harnesses in the first place?

    ANDERSON CONSTRUCTION found us using inadequate fall arrest equipment and basically ordered IFC to buy new equipment if we were going to be on their jobs.

    • Well, good, someone was watching out for the safety, however, each iron worker should go to work prepared and with the tools they need to be productive and safe at work as well. So many people expect it is the company’s job to supply everything. Not sure when water became a must for a company to supply. Last time I checked the drinking water in the Portland metro area is safe for drinking. Same as lunch, provide your own. Crazy what people expect these days.

  4. Kray said,

    “The employees were not fired! They did not report to work for several days, this is an at will state, how many employers would let you keep your job if you did not call or show up?”

    Kray, do you realize how ignorant you sound trying to justify for this unscrupulous contractor? This guy is a bully and can’t stand to see workers stand up against his abuse.

    Do you want a copy of the NLRB charge we filed after we were terminated, the day we went on strike? That’s why we didn’t show back up. We are on strike! Familiar with that term Kray?

    This is an at will state? At will for what?

  5. As one of the strikers (see “liar”) I feel the need to respond. The family plan is not affordable by any means. Bronze plan alone is 660$ a month. At no point were standard issue harnesses offered and for that matter lanyards (these were purchased by the employee). True there were about 3 in the tool crib from the last century to use……this is hardly adequate fall protection. At no point has IFC EVER provided water on a job, as a field worker I would bring my own jug and ask for water from the GC, this does not constitute “providing water.” I also was fired after clearly stating I was on strike and have a letter given to me by IFC stating that fact after we were informed they refused to meet our demands or even meet with us, I can post a picture of it to jog your memory. And yes this is America, the land where employees can speak out if they feel they deserve better treatment. They cannot be silenced by being called liars that spread slander. The company has not even tried to meet with us to come to terms. At this point almost 15 employees have joined the strike…seems like more than just a few liars.

  6. Kray, we all know this is America! That’s exactly why we should support these workers. This isn’t some third world country. They’re actually allowed to build a union at work in America. Why doesn’t that guy just sit down and talk with these workers? Did you read the article carefully and see where it mentions that two of the men are military veterans? I’m pretty sure these men realize this is America since they both have contributed to mine and your freedom and safety, and this is how you want to respond to them when they speak up against businesses who treat them wrong?

    I’m curious as to why someone with your antiunion views and beliefs is even reading articles on this site? This site is for Proud Union Members!! Not individuals who support the abuse of American workers!!!!

    • Interesting…..

      I’m sorry Concerned Citizen- did you say that if you’re not a Proud Union Member, you are not supposed to access and read this site? What kind of freedom is that?

      DIY guy, did you say that the workers were fired the day they went on strike? Please show me something in writing, then I will believe it. That is not what I heard.

      IFC striking worker- the workers were not given water? Was that not the Field Superintendent’s responsibility? Isn’t that Superintendent one of the strikers? Maybe you should ask him about water, rest breaks,and dry shacks. Let me know what he says!

      What attempts have the strikers made to talk to Instafab since they left. Please explain. I heard that their only communication has been out in the street yelling. Is that your idea of communication?

      DIY guy- you’re right- whistleblowing is not slander when the claims factual. Your claims are not.

      DIY guy- why would you expect to earn union wages? Instafab is a non union company. I don’t know why you would expect them to pay union wages? Are you saying that they don’t pay fair wages? Please explain.

      Compare Instafab’s insurance plan and rates with the open market. The rates are in line with the rest. Try being honest. The conversation will have more value. Claiming that Instafab’s insurance policy has a $20,000 deductible just makes you look foolish.

      Clearly, the person that wrote this article for the Oregon Labor Press did not do any research to try to have any kind of fairness or balance.. Did anyone from the Oregon Labor Press talk to anyone at Instafab? Obviously not. The story is one-sided, but the truth is always there if anyone wants it. The author of the article should call Instafab for an interview.

      The facts don’t support your claims, but people want to hear what they want to hear. I’m sure that union rep. Bob Camarillo’s concern about the worker’s welfare is genuine, and has nothing to do with the fact that Instafab is having some success and keeping busy. Apparently in Mr. Camarillo’s world, in order for someone to be successful, someone else has to fail.

  7. HI! I’m back, and I had a few questions about the issues presented here, so I contacted someone at Instafab to get some more details. This is what I found out-

    The workers that left were not fired. You said that you could prove you were fired- please do that.

    The workers that left to go on strike went straight to union jobs within a couple of days. Is this true? Pay records should be available. That doesn’t square up with the story that we are getting from the strikers.

    The issues that are being raised as the reason for the strike were never brought up to the company. If that’s not true, then please show me some evidence- BEFORE you went on strike.

    Instafab follows all State guidelines for overtime pay. Somebody needs to demonstrate that they weren’t paid according to the State, or quit bringing it up.

    Instafab pays the employees medical insurance. It has never offered or never will offer to cover dependents at company cost. They cannot afford it.

    Instafab is not able to offer everything that the union can. If the strikers want to work for a union company, then stay in local 29.

    Instafab said that most of the NLRB charges have been dropped, but that new charges are being filed constantly. This person believes that the union is using the NLRB to harass Instafab.

    The whole goal here if for the union to harm or put Instafab out of business all together. They are using the workers that went on strike to do that. What is the real goal here? Please be honest.

    The person I talked to said they would be happy to give the NW Labor Press some time to get the other side of the story. They also mentioned that the Jobs with Justice folks were free to sit in- they seem to be confused about some of the facts also.

    Bullying, harassment, abuse, sweatshop, threats, retaliation, disgusting, mistreatment, despicable, illegal, unethical, exploitation- pretty dramatic stuff! These are terms used in the fliers that the strikers hand out. Doesn’t sound like a place where I would want to work.

    Thank you. Feel free to respond or ask questions.

  8. Well, it’s been a couple of days since I talked to the folks at Instafab and replied to the striker’s claims and allegations. My “person in the know” at Instafab said that they received yet another NLRB charge yesterday, which contains charges that are clearly not true. He said they will just add it to the pile. My Instafab contact was also wondering about the legality of making false claims on the NLRB documents- there is language about that on the NLRB form warning against it, but that doesn’t seem to stop the strikers or the union from knowingly making false claims. They probably know that there is no accountability there, and are not concerned.

    I find it odd that there is no response to my previous posts from either the union, the strikers, or the folks at NW Labor Press. On the other hand, what could they possibly say? I put a lot of thought into my previous posts, and challenged some folks to step up address some of the issues that seem to be important to them. Maybe they’re too busy getting ready for the picnic and softball game on June 17th.

    In the posts above, the strikers repeatedly offered to provide proof of various things that support their complaints and claims. I would only ask that, if you’re going to use the media to publicize your cause, at least follow through with what you offered.

    Otherwise, we should all just assume that this entire thing was orchestrated by the union to get back at Instafab for doing work that the union believes they are somehow entitled to. The union is doing it by offering the strikers union jobs, but first they have to do the dirty work of attacking Instafab, the company that they used to work for. All part of the not-so-grand bargain. If they can sleep well at night after all of that, then I applaud them. Most folks with any kind of a moral compass would not be nearly as comfortable with that arrangement.

  9. I believe KRay is the new controller of Instafab that replaced me on 2-6-15. Yes, the depictions, assertions and concerns of the strikers are 100% accurate. Instafab is very strangely ran, as a company. I can attest or witness that in spades.

    Congratulations guys! I felt the same way as you do when I worked there for a few months. The place is a backstabbing sweat-shop from the Middle-Ages. So WHAT if I was fired. I vehemently DISLIKED the owner and his Office Wife, and I was already working toward resigning anyway when Mister Neurotic pulled the plug on me.

    I landed VERY WELL on the job market (without his “assistance”)…and I am THRILLED to see you guys standing up to the Sweat-Shop, vindictive tactics of that hell hole called Insta-Flab!

    • Union Reps / Attorneys for the strikers are welcome to reach me via my email address. This labor dispute is only ONE of several fires that Insta-flab is dealing with right now… 🙂

  10. Truth be told – How come your not responding to “KIRK in the office”? – Oh wait, he’s probably also a liar along with those 14 other brave striking workers, and the 1-2 dozen other exploited workers who were fed up with the abuse and quit that so-called “great” company over the past couple of years. I’m also curious to know if YOU or anyone else from your club has put any effort in contacting any of the 14 striking workers to discuss how instafab could meet their demands.

    It’s a little mystifying that no one from this wonderful company has the urge to reach out to the workers to find out how their demands can be met. All “Truth be told” is concerned with is blaming the union and workers, and taking the focus off what the facts are, as if they union and Mr. Camarillo are responsible for mistreating his workers. It’s really weird how this person is defending this company without talking to the workers.

    I’ve heard everyone in that company hates the owner and his arrogant ways. Most can’t stand the guy but have no confidence to stand up to him. Even his supervision is fed up with his sick abusive behavior.

    • Concerned Citizen-

      I don’t know how to respond to “Kirk”, or if a response is even called for. I didn’t see a question there. I notice that he did have trouble spelling Instafab correctly. Called it Instaflab! Honest mistake- twice.

      As far as reaching out to the strikers, help me understand-

      Some disgruntled Instafab workers have issues with some things that management is doing. I don’t see that the workers brought these issues up with management, even though I’m sure some of the concerns are valid. Instead, they show up at the start of a shift with the union reps in tow, and read a list of demands. The manager does not agree to the demands, so the workers announce that they are on strike until further notice and they leave.

      Some of the strikers started working on union job sites the following Monday. Others spend their days picketing, handing out damaging and misleading fliers, and going to Instafab’s job sites and telling Instafab’s customers why they shouldn’t hire them. I’m told that they are being paid by the union to do this.

      The NLRB charges signed by the strikers and the union reps start flowing in. Labor and Industries receives complaints of grave danger at the shop from the strikers. Instafab’s office and job sites are picketed repeatedly. Instafab’s customers and even their suppliers are encouraged to turn their backs on Instafab. Some of Instafab’s customers are viciously personally attacked in fliers. Instafab’s remaining workers are barraged with communications from the workers and the strikers urging them to walk out. Some of them do.

      After all of that, you are surprised that Instafab doesn’t reach out to the strikers to see how they can meet the strikers demands? I’ve heard of turning the other cheek, but that’s just ridiculous! Also, is there some rule that says that the company must reach out to the strikers, and not the other way around? You have been telling folks that you tried to talk to the people at Instafab, but we all know that’s not the case.

      If I’m confused about the events described above, please correct me. There’s a lot of mis-information out there.

      Thank you.

    • Fact #1. Instafab is NOT a member of the union…thus is not required to pay union wages. But these employees knew they didn’t work for a company that was a union member. Why, if in fact, you were so unhappy with the conditions, work at such a company for SO LONG? Or was the time just right that the union reps came knocking? I find it hard to believe that there isn’t some vendetta against Instafab as a company or it’s owner. There are a lot of company’s out there that are much worse than Instafab and some that are better. We all do what we can do. Ultimately we have a duty to ourselves that if we don’t feel right about something we either move on to “bigger and better” things or we try to be a part of what it takes to fix something. I’m not blaming anyone but I do think it is ridiculous to continually bash a company and its owner. Instafab is not going to dissolve because of this. The union is NOT perfect. Instafab is not perfect. If these striking workers can honestly say that they handled themselves correctly and went about voicing their concerns instead of turning in equipment and their cell phones and walking out and then saying they aren’t “quitting” then all they need to do is stick with the union and count this as a lesson learned. I mean come on, we are all big boys and girls here.

      Fact #2. I for one, and I know there’s more, do not hate the owner. I enjoy my job and depend on it. But I CAN tell you this. IF I didn’t care for my job or this was a terrible company to work for, you can bet your “Concerned Citizen” heiny that I would pull up my drawers and act like a big kid and find another job.

      Fact #3. “KIRK in the office” IS in fact a liar. That is not an opinion, it is not an emotional statement on my part. It is the cold hard truth and there is a mounting stack of proof to that fact. Maybe the reason for Truth be Told not to respond to KIRK in the office is simply because he’s not worth responding to. He was here for a blink of an eye. (Good thing too… he was poison).

      Question: Is this all really necessary? What about the workers that do enjoy their jobs? Do we have no rights ourselves?

      I just wonder if its greed or laziness or a combination of the two.

  11. Truth Be told……if you want I can PM you the picture of my letter firing me after the strike signed by bruce perkins if that will calm you. How is the field superintendent supposed to provide a dry shack if the company does not supply one?

    • Yes, that would be appreciated. I don’t know the answer to your dry shack question. I will look into it!

    • “Striking instafab employee” Maybe you would like to share all the correspondence you’ve received from Instafab including multiple offers to come back to work?? While you’re sending out copies…….?

  12. Truth be told I will get you that picture this evening. I am also ready to answer more of your questions now that I am done with the picnic baseball planning (little bit immature of a jab but oh well). I am curious to know your relationship to IFC as by someone of your language I would assume you are either an employee or close relation. If you have not worked at ifc how can you assume 14 guys are liars. Have you ever worked some of the “ifc classic” day and night shift or 24 hour shifts (c check time cards before you say im lying) And of course “contact” at ifc is going to take zero blame and call us liars. How would I show you these complaints have been brought up before when it is heresay And I will be called a liar again. How about a company where the owner takes zero blame and passes the buck to the field superintendent. Doesnt even take a tiny portion of it and “hey we did some stuff wrong but are working on changing it” instead he says “field supers fault.” Seems very cowardly. So by your own admission the field super should pay for water and bring a dry shack. IFC doesnt even have……but I blame the field superintendent for that. It is very easy when trying to protect your company to blame the workers and say they are doing the unions dirty work. We are doing what we felt was best to change how things are there and to change them for our buddies still working there but not on (but who we talk to and support us). With that I sleep just fine at night. Feel free to follow up with questions

    • striking instafab employee-

      It is not my intention to engage in name calling, but you have to admit that there is some information being put out there about Instafab that just isn’t true. Maybe it just doesn’t matter, but it would be nice to be accurate.

      I did hear about those long shifts. I always assumed that the workers did them voluntarily. Were people forced to work long shifts? Did guys refuse, and if they did, what happened to them? It doesn’t sound like the best way to go.

      And I am a little confused about your comment about water and dry shacks, and anything else that a field crew would need to work safely and productively. I never imagined that the Instafab would make you pay for it- just figure out what the crews need, order it, and get it on site. If it’s not the Super’s job to make sure that was taken care of, who’s job was it? And would the owner not agree to pay for it? If the owner refused, the company is clearly at fault.

  13. Greetings, commenters. I’m chiming in to clarify what this site is and isn’t, and make sure you know that comments here are moderated in accord with our comments policy.

    This site is the online version of the Northwest Labor Press, an independent labor newspaper that has served the local labor movement since 1900. Our print version is mailed out twice a month to about 50,000 union members, and our online version makes those articles available to the wider public.

    We’re happy for this space to be used as a forum for debate and discussion. You don’t have be a union member to comment. Employers and their representatives are welcome too. All we ask is that you abide by the comments policy: No name-calling or personal attacks, no intentional baiting or “trolling,” and so on (read the full policy here). In short, try to keep it civil.

    I’ve had to reject several comments in the last couple days for violating the policy.

    One other thing. It would be nice if commenters used their real names, though it’s not required. If you do use an alias, though, please stick to one alias, or at least one alias per thread. Thanks!

    In solidarity,
    Don McIntosh, site moderator

    • Agreed. I appreciate having access to this site. From where I sit, it looks like there have been few meaningful conversations since this dispute started back in February. Hopefully we will come away with a little better understanding of the other person’s position, and how it all fits together.

  14. Truth be told. I agree and unfortunatly there has been no conversation or even an attempt at bargining. I still am getting you that pick just stuck in traffic but will have it for you. I admit that a few things on the flyers have been wrong or worded incorrectly and have been attempting to correct this mistakes. As for the long shifts they were not called “mandatory” out loud but it was told very strongly that you had be there and the job had to be done. If the job was not completed due to guys severe lack of sleep it was blamed on the crew. One crew member even fell asleep in a company truck and rear ended a gal after a 30 hour shifts. Even if “mandatory” shifts like this are against the law. There were times we HAD to work the shifts as contractors were sending notices to cure. As for the labor practices charges there are some that have been thrown out however many including; firing striking workers and some others I cannot currently get into are proceeding. They day we striked we presented our demands and were told no. After we were fired, however, few things were (purchasing safety equipment for example and sick pay) as the company was in direct violation of the law. This isnt just about me and the 14 on strike. I worked with many of the remaining guys and are trying to make sure they get the best treatment. Ironworking is one of the most dangerous jobs in the company and guys risk their lives everyday and deserve fair treatment. Our field superintendent constanly battled the new GM and tried to do everything for us but it was a losing battle and he got backed into a corner wanting what is best for his crew and his brothers. Unfortuantly many conversations were verbal and cannot be proven, it turns into he said she said and a no win situation. We have always been open to bargining but was apparent from day one that we were to be replaced.

    • striking instafab employee-

      I see that there have been some changes at Instafab. The mess with the training cert cards appears to be completely redone, the fall protection program was tweaked, and overall the communication has improved. They hope to avoid working crazy hours. It’s unsafe and counterproductive. Some guys will take every minute of OT they can get, but that doesn’t make it good. I don’t see the company ever going union though. I don’t think it would be a good fit for the owner. I think in order to be a union shop, you have to want to be a union shop. Being self employed is about having the freedom to have the business that you want. Instafab should follow the rules, treat people with respect, and work safely, but being forced to take a business in a direction that you don’t want it to go just seems wrong.

      It’s like starting a pizza joint, and having someone come along and tell you that from now on, you’re serving only chicken. Still a restaurant, right? But not the restaurant that you wanted.

      The folks at Instafab do not at all understand the whole bargaining thing. Bargaining for what? To make it a better place, or to bring in a union? Are you guys, strikers and union reps, on the same page? What is your goal? Is your goal their goal? If you’re in the union, why would you care about Instafab?

      Thank you.

  15. @ admin I completely agree. This needs to remain a civil conveconversation, we are not children and both sides (sstrikers and ifc) need to remain respectful.

    • There’s no way to post a picture, but you could upload it to Flickr or any other web site and post a link to it.

  16. I was particularly impressed during my 6 months as Controller at IFC, how the company was so generous to shove a porta-crapper out back for the shop employees. A real class act by any measure.

    • Kirk again…-

      I remember you from your time at Instafab, but I don’t think that you would remember me. I find your participation in this discussion both amusing and slightly annoying at the same time. Maybe you should check in with the strikers before you try to climb on their band wagon.

      You want so badly to be “the guy”. That insecurity does not serve you well. You obviously also to have a score to settle with Instafab. The problem is, every story has “the other side”. Are you sure you want to go there? Instafab fired you months ago, and they are still trying to repair some of the damage that you did.

      For the record, the portable restroom was placed out back for the employees to use while the regular bathroom was in use or being cleaned. The main bathroom is cleaned several times per day.

      But don’t let the facts ruin a good story.

  17. Concerned Citizen-

    There’s the response to “Kirk” that you were so interested in. If you want to drive him around, feed him donuts, and put his story on a flier, feel free. I’m sure he would love the attention and free food. Good luck with all of that.

  18. Hi KIRK in the office!, feel free to contact the “Instafab Workers Coalition for Justice” at [email protected]

    We’d be happy to catch up with you. You have a lot of courage.

    Not sure why Bruce won’t take the high road.

    • Working For Respect and Dignity-

      striking instafab worker

      DIY Guy

      Concerned Citizen

      Any or all of the strikers, union folks, or interested parties


      Can you please explain to me what exactly the high road is that you expect Bruce to take? It seems like you folks are being very indirect and elusive. You’re blaming Instafab’s owner and management for behavior that you refuse to describe in real terms. What does it look like?

      I’ve tried to, as fairly as possible, let you see how things look from Instafab’s side of the issue. I put a lot of thought into both sides. There were several people contributing to the conversation, and I thought we were getting somewhere- actually talking about some of the issues. Then, nothing.

      It would make sense to me that, in order to achieve a better understanding of each other, you need to hang in- even if you don’t always like what you hear.

      Why don’t you please show some of that courage that you so admire in others and finish the conversation that you started?

      Thank you,

  19. Strikers and others-

    If you have any questions, please let me know. If you have any thoughtful responses to the posts above, I would like to hear them. If you want to try to understand where we are all coming from and we see ourselves moving forward, then let’s talk. If you just want to make noise and stir things up, that is certainly your choice.

  20. I used to work at IFC as a Project Manager. I have worked at both Union and Non Union shops, and honestly I prefer a functional Non Union shop.

    While unionizing may not be for every company, those companies need to take care of their employees. If the employees are cared for and everything is above board, no one is going to be forced to strike. I personally think its sad that Unions have to exist to protect workers from dishonest employers.

    I have worked with two of the guys striking, and can tell you I’d trust them over anything anyone at InstaFab would say. The owner is the kind of guy who would steal your wallet and then help you look for it, and anyone else would just be afraid of retaliation.

  21. Well, it looks like the strikers and union reps bailed out. Pretty quiet out there! 🙂 Probably a little embarrassed after that less-than-factual KBOO interview. I was both amused and appalled at the same time. Some folks will say anything when they’re in a safe, fact-free environment.

    Instafab management is ready to sit down and talk ANY TIME. We want to take care of the things that need to be corrected, but first we need to agree on just what the problems are. Sooner the better, strikers! I’m jammed up next week, but the week of the 6th is looking good for me. Check your calenders. Instafab will be ready to answer any question openly and honestly. Strikers, be ready to do the same. Your BS claims will no longer fly. If you are speaking the truth, this meeting should not be a problem for you.

    What do you say? Ready to do this? Will your claims stand up? You keep telling people that you just want to sit down and talk. Either do it, OR QUIT MAKING THAT CLAIM! You cannot have it both ways. “Thinks this is silly” is right. Time to be big boys and girls! Do what you should have done in the first place- go to the source of the problem- ME! No more holding anyone’s hand (this was never about the union, remember?)

    Why am I reaching out to you strikers?? Because you won’t do it. As long as you are unwilling to sit down, you can keep running around making your wild claims. If we have a meeting and we both answer questions that need to be answered, you won’t be able to say most of the things that you have been saying. You okay with that?

    Maybe then Instafab will start a little PR campaign of its own. Let folks hear OUR story. I promise you, it will be different story than the story you have been telling.

    What do you say guys? You going to step up to the plate, or hide out and pretend you didn’t read this post?

    I’m tired of your string of lies. You hide behind the union, Jobs with Justice, and anyone else you believe will give you some cover. Time to quit hiding. You said that this is what you wanted, so here it is.

    Please email me to set a time. Thank you!

    And no Kirk, you’re not invited.

  22. Headline!

    “Management” waits FOUR MONTHS to reach out?

    Instead, would it be a the catastrophic drop in your their contract revenues and new contracts causing this sudden “olive branch”, would it?

    People; this ain’t why he’s ‘reaching out’ to you; there’s other reasons for his sudden ‘open-arms’ contriteness toward you workers after 4 MONTHS!

    He takes all this time out to publish a message to you guys, yet while you read his message above; he’s very free about inserting the “liar” and “less than factual” assertions the whole time.

    Yeah, sounds like a real Honest Injun taking one last gasp to recover his economic losses. Makes you really want to run right on down and ‘make-up’, eh?

    It’s over by now. All of you are working somewhere else, making ‘scale’; and I high-5 every one of you that are young, strong, and chose to make a stand and take charge of your own personal careers. I applaud you guys!

    Fortunately, it’s a Workers-Market out there and employers are finally stepping up and paying (in some cases) up to 30% better wages to keep their key-people.

    The smaller companies are finally getting it! You get what you pay for! Pay crap; you get crap. Pay well and you get the cream of the crop!

    Portland is seeing one of it’s largest economic booms since World War 2 and the shipyards. Across several key industries, the pendulum has again swung to a glut of jobs available and NOT enough to fill them.

    Unfortunately, this Owner didn’t ‘get it’ until too late…

    • Hi Kirk-

      Thanks for posting!

      Is “Honest Injun” some kind of slang term having to do with Native Americans? Teach you that in the Navy?

      Just wondering.

  23. Yep, you show ‘real’ contrition, alright. You don’t like Indians or VETERANS? I’ll call you a real “Honest John” instead. No wonder all this has happened to you…

  24. I have a couple of questions maybe someone can answer, how do employees go on strike at a non union job? Why does the company that is non union have to keep workers that are dissatisfied and do not want to work there anymore? Even if Instafab did every single thing the strikers wanted they would never want to come back and actually work there. Instafab being a small business cannot possibly meet all the workers “demands”and stay in business. Since when do workers get to demand anything.

    You apply for a job, you interview, you discuss pay, benefits, you accept or decline the offer of work. You work hard, if issues come up you SPEAK UP!!! If you do not feel safe you SPEAK UP! if you think you deserve more money or better benefits you ask, if you do not get what you feel you deserve you look for another job. In this economy you should feel fortunate to have a job at all.

    Why would the owner want to sit down and discuss DEMANDS! If someone doesn’t want to work there, doesn’t like the superintendent doesn’t like the owner…why would the owner want to meet with them. I’m sure Instafab like most companies only wants employees that want to work for them. Instafab doesn’t seem to have trouble finding good better best workers.

    Kirk in the office….really? More like Kirk hardly in the office.

    How is it legal to try to prevent a business from remaining in business? It seems like companies have no rights at all. No job is perfect. We workers all want more, but come on be reasonable, I am a current and contented employee. I feel comfortable talking to the management and the owner about any concern or issue I have. They are open, direct and seem to really care about legitimate issues we employees have. I am disgusted by the childish antics that I have seen go on with the strikers and their uninformed supporters. The Field Superintendent worked here for 7+ years, was in charge of the safety program and the owner did many many kind things for him. Now you slap him in the face. I just don’t understand why you all feel you couldn’t have handled your issues like men. A civilized conversation is all that was needed. It saddens me that small businesses have to put up with so much, give so much, keep giving, turn the other cheek. Its the same old story….Greatful for the check and letting me work to provide for my family, thank you for the training and for caring about me but….I wont remember any of that until given MORE MORE MORE!!!

    One or two more questions? Why was Kirk more like NEVER IN THE OFFICE allowed such comments when some of mine, a lot nicer didn’t get approved? The radio show, how can that be aired without both sides being present? Doesn’t seem very fair or responsible journalism, more like entertainment.

    • Here you go:

      | How do employees go on strike at a non union job?
      A strike is telling management that those involved have a drawn a line in the sand, whether it be for better pay, or better working conditions. Anyone can take a stand for themselves, non union workers just do not enjoy the luxury of having protection from retaliation.

      | Why does the company that is non union have to keep workers that are dissatisfied and do not want to work there anymore?
      As a non union shop InstaFab certainly has the option to cut the strikers loose. Most employers though cannot afford to lure a whole new crew in, especially with low pay or poor working conditions being the reason the last crew quit. When this happens, you typically get the guys who can’t pass drug tests, are fresh out of prison, unskilled, or who have no motivation as a work force. That kind of labor force is often unreliable. Therefore, it usually makes sense to negotiate with the crew rather than cut them loose.

      | Even if Instafab did every single thing the strikers wanted they would never want to come back and actually work there.
      Then working conditions must be REALLY bad. It wouldn’t be an easy choice to strike and put your and your family’s financial well-being in jeopardy without a good reason.

      | Instafab being a small business cannot possibly meet all the workers “demands”and stay in business.
      Then it needs to find a new way to manage its money, or close its doors. I can open up one hundred businesses if I treated those who worked for me like sweat shop workers.

      | Since when do workers get to demand anything.
      January 1, 1863

      | You apply for a job, you interview, you discuss pay, benefits, you accept or decline the offer of work. You work hard, if issues come up you SPEAK UP!!! If you do not feel safe you SPEAK UP! if you think you deserve more money or better benefits you ask, if you do not get what you feel you deserve you look for another job.
      Usually strikers have either spoken up and were ignored, or they didn’t feel their management team would be receptive, often from interactions that happened prior to “the last straw”. Unfortunately, no one but the two parties can possibly know that talks didn’t occur. Right to work states work both ways.

      | In this economy you should feel fortunate to have a job at all.
      False. The rest of this industry is booming. I cannot find sub’s who aren’t 4 to 5 weeks out on BEGINNING a project. I’m sure they wished they had more man power. No I don’t want InstaFab to bid anything.

      | Why would the owner want to sit down and discuss DEMANDS!
      He doesn’t have to, but again if he can’t afford to lure a whole new crew out of the industry, then it makes fiscal sense to sit down and discuss those “demands”.

      | If someone doesn’t want to work there, doesn’t like the superintendent doesn’t like the owner…why would the owner want to meet with them. I’m sure Instafab like most companies only wants employees that want to work for them.
      Obviously conditions are bad enough that multiple people felt the need to draw that line in the sand. I have never worked at a place that conditions were so bad for so many that a crew felt the need to strike. At most normal places, if one person feels this way, they just find a new job. When its the whole crew, that is indicative of a larger problem.

      | Instafab doesn’t seem to have trouble finding good better best workers.
      False. InstaFab’s reputation in this industry is not a good one. This kind of attention doesn’t help.

      | Kirk in the office….really? More like Kirk hardly in the office.
      That’s mature.

      | How is it legal to try to prevent a business from remaining in business?
      The strikers are not trying to run anyone out of business. However, if InstaFab wants to remain in business, they may need to look at their business practices.

      | It seems like companies have no rights at all.
      He had the right to fire those employees, and he chose to exercise that right.

      | No job is perfect. We workers all want more, but come on be reasonable, I am a current and contented employee. I feel comfortable talking to the management and the owner about any concern or issue I have. They are open, direct and seem to really care about legitimate issues we employees have.
      Obviously not all in your company feel this way.

      | I am disgusted by the childish antics that I have seen go on with the strikers and their uninformed supporters. The Field Superintendent worked here for 7+ years, was in charge of the safety program and the owner did many many kind things for him. Now you slap him in the face. I just don’t understand why you all feel you couldn’t have handled your issues like men. A civilized conversation is all that was needed.
      At some point everyone has a breaking point. It’s no one’s place to judge where others draw their’s.

      | It saddens me that small businesses have to put up with so much, give so much, keep giving, turn the other cheek. Its the same old story….Greatful for the check and letting me work to provide for my family, thank you for the training and for caring about me but….I wont remember any of that until given MORE MORE MORE!!!
      The problem begins when owners and entitled office workers forget it is a team effort to make a business successful. The shoe can be flipped to the other foot. Workers have to put up with so much, work extra hours, sacrifice time from families, etc. The owner is grateful the company gets paid so he take care of his family. But when the worker feels so overstretched he says enough is enough, the owner passes out pink slips, cause he wants MORE MORE MORE.

      | One or two more questions? Why was Kirk more like NEVER IN THE OFFICE allowed such comments when some of mine, a lot nicer didn’t get approved?
      Again, mature. I can’t see any reason someone so obviously reasonable would be denied from contributing to a civilized discussion.

      | The radio show, how can that be aired without both sides being present? Doesn’t seem very fair or responsible journalism, more like entertainment.
      Jerry Springer is entertainment, and they often have both sides of a dispute present.

    • Oh and to clarify, an employee is protected by NRLA for striking lawfully and peacefully, but companies often conveniently find other reasons to fire employees who are participating in such an activity.

  25. I’m offended by this whole union thing! Can we just get rid of it like the Pledge of Allegiance, In God we Trust, the Confederate Flag, Merry Christmas and everything else that seems to be offensive in the United States these days? Good Grief! Where is the integrity and honesty? Does that not exist at all anymore?

  26. Confused-

    I appreciate your comments. This gives me a chance to continue a discussion that is very important to me.

    (how do non-union employees go on strike?……..)
    Your initial answer was wrong, but your follow up response is correct. When an employee notifies a company that they’re on strike, they are protected under the NLRA. It probably easier for a non-union worker to go on strike than a worker with a union contract. When the strikers first announced that they were on strike, I didn’t think it was possible that a non union worker could go on strike in a non union company. We found out differently in a hurry. Obviously the union knows every facet of those laws- they helped write them, and they know how to use them.

    (why does a company have to keep workers that are dissatisfied?……..)
    No, Instafab does not have the “option to cut the strikers loose”. This is expressly forbidden and closely monitored by the NLRB. We brought in “temporary” replacement workers, but depending on the outcome of the strike, the strikers still have a position here. Technically, they are still employees, even though they receive no pay or benefits. We currently have 70 employees, and this is by far the best crew and staff we have ever had. If the strikers ever come back to work here, we’ll probably have to move some very good workers aside- but that’s what the law say we have to do. Your assumption that the strikers left because of low pay and poor working conditions tells me that you do not understand what’s really going on here.

    (even if Instafab did every single thing……)
    This strike isn’t about working conditions at Instafab. This is about workers that wanted to join the union, and the union wanting Instafab’s market share. We are the biggest non-union fabricator and erector in the area (according to the union), and we have work. Local 29 has 130 guys in the hall out of work. Intel cut back and they have guys out of work. You figure it out. The union agreed to take the strikers, and they have been on the union payroll since the day they walked out of here. Part of the bargain is that the strikers have to help the union shut us down. Don’t take my word for it, find out for yourself.

    (Instafab could not meet all of the workers demands…….)
    The strikers demands are based on the union business model. A lot of the benefits that the union offers are sustained by investing the worker’s pension money, and getting discounts and low rates on things like insurance because of their size. We cannot do that. Your notion that we need to compete dollar for dollar with the union compensation package is ridiculous. Last time I checked, there were lots of different ways to structure a company. The whole “sweat shop” comment shows me that you don’t think for yourself or do your own research. And if you ever open a business whose decision are driven strictly by worker’s demands, let me know. I want to work for an owner like you.

    (since when do workers get to demand anything…..)
    A demand is a request, not an order. Having the right to demand something does not insure that you are going to get it.

    (you apply for a job, you interview, you discuss pay..)
    I agree with you. Only the individual strikers know 100% what their true motivations were. I know what I see.

    (in this economy…)
    I agree with you. I would like to know who you are so I won’t waste our estimator’s time bidding your work!

    (I someone doesn’t want to work for here, why would the owner want to sit down…)
    Again, we are fully staffed with an excellent crew. We have no problem attracting top notch workers.

    (if someone doesn’t want to work here. ..)
    You don’t know what the conditions are here, and you don’t seem to want to understand why the few that left did what they did. Please do your own thinking before you jump to conclusions.

    (Instafab doesn’t have trouble…)
    We have had our rough patches in the past. Fortunately, a lot of people believe in us, and are invested in our success. It’s obvious that this kind of attention was designed to do as much damage as possible to our reputation. I think most companies have their supporters and their critics. Have you ever worked with Instafab and had your own experience, or are you comfortable having other people do your thinking for you?

    (how is it legal to try to prevent a business…….)
    Do you really pretend to know what the strikers or the unions intentions are? And I think the question is not about legalities, but ethics. Do you think it is ethical for the union to use the strikers, the workers protection agencies of the NLRB, OSHA, BOLI, L+I, Jobs with Justice and the Portland City Council to cut into our business? Seems like a terrible waste and abuse of resources. Don’t assume that you know what’s going on. Yesterday, the union called OSHA to one of our job site claiming the Instafab crews were guilty of 6 serious violations. OSHA showed up, stopped the work, found 0 violations and left. This continued harassment of Instafab by the union seems neither legal nor ethical.

    (it seems like companies have no rights…)
    We do not have the right to fire the strikers, and they are not fired. They are on strike. The workers rights are given a much higher priority than the rights of the company. That does make sense to me.

    (no job is perfect…)
    Not all feel that way, but fortunately most do.

    (I am disgusted by the childish antics…)
    Clearly the Field Superintendent, as a manager, had plenty of options to bring problems to upper management’s attention. That was one of the responsibilities of his position, and one of the things he agreed to do. He obviously was not willing or maybe not equipped to do that.

    (it saddens me that small businesses have to put up with so much…)
    It seems like there are several different ways to look at this. I’m not sure what your definition of an “entitled office worker” is. Most of the folks in the office make much less that the field workers. A good balance would a worker feeling that they are being paid fairly for what they do, and an owner feeling like they are getting their money’s worth. Your view is biased in favor of the workers, (which makes sense since you’re reading the Labor Press), but the relationship is never that simple. The company’s relationship with every worker is different.

    (KBOO compared to Jerry Springer…)
    Not sure what your point is here with the Springer reference. I think that the frustration is that there seems to me a lot of organizations like KBOO that give people like the strikers a forum to present their side of the issue without questioning or analyzing anything they say. KBOO sounded more like cheerleaders that reporters. Maybe that should be expected. You would never know by listening to that show that there could be another side to the story. Maybe their thinking is that these folks need a voice, that their cause needs to be heard? But what good is it if most of the information is BS? How is spreading misinformation helping anyone? Workers seem to be well represented, with lots of groups stepping in to help get their message out. I just don’t think that the truth should take a back seat to their cause. What good are changes if they’re based on a lie? That’s why I respond to every post in the Labor Press like it matters- this forum is one of the few places that will let me say what’s on my mind.

    Thank you!

    • I try to be as neutral as I can, but it seems this particular forum has been saturated more by one side than the other. I appreciate a good debate, so here goes:

      (how do non-union employees go on strike?……..)
      My response was meant to be less of what the law allows and more of what a man can do and what a man can’t do. You could and did fire them as a knee jerk reaction. Not knowing the law, you then amended your knee jerk reaction the best way you could. However, at the end of the day, black and white, all feelings aside, you fired them for striking. You probably should have done some homework before making that decision.

      (why does a company have to keep workers that are dissatisfied?……..)
      Again, like above, in the real world you can do anything you want, as long as you’re willing to face the consequences. At the end of the day, outsider’s perspective, they went on strike, you fired them, and now it sounds like you are facing those consequences. The strikers leaving due to poor working conditions and low pay is what the article is about. If you google InstaFab, you get this article and a couple related to it, and some 1 star reviews on yelp and yahoo. All anyone has to go on is what is out there.

      (even if Instafab did every single thing……)
      Like I said, conditions would have to be really bad if you offered everything they wanted and they still wanted to pay out of pocket to belong to the union. If you are the biggest non union outfit around then you should be able to meet the demands that I have read. Clean drinking water, a dry shack, new safety harnesses that meet an OSHA minimum criteria, and area standard pay are not too much to ask for. If you had provided those things prior to the strike, you should have documentation that you purchased these items. You should also have documentation that they were paid fairly and overtime was awarded. At that point, it would be on the superintendent that he isn’t making his guys use them. The union is like a giant employer. they are going to go after work as hard as they can to keep their guys busy, that’s their job. Since you’ve chosen to be non union, your job is to make sure you operations are legal and fair and give the union nothing to go after you for.

      (Instafab could not meet all of the workers demands…….)
      There are plenty of non union operations who are not under this scrutiny. You may be the biggest operation that both fab and erects, but there are plenty of non union shops and non union erectors that are bigger than InstaFab. They compete just fine, but know they have to offer a similar package or they will lose their best guys to the Union. I am always accepting applications.

      (since when do workers get to demand anything…..)
      Right. and you can choose to ignore the demands. It doesn’t automatically make you right, and it doesn’t automatically make you money.

      (you apply for a job, you interview, you discuss pay..)
      That’s step 1 of a good debate.

      (in this economy…)
      I wouldn’t waste either of our time sending it to bid.

      (I someone doesn’t want to work for here, why would the owner want to sit down…)
      The industry doesn’t agree. I have inquired about your company before, and my own experiences aside, heard the GC’s that I’ve asked call InstaFab “bottom of the barrel”, even among non union outfits.

      (if someone doesn’t want to work here. ..)
      I don’t know what the conditions are working there. I just know that of the non union subs I use, not one of them is under this scrutiny. I do my own thinking, and my own thoughts on this would be: why would I introduce a company with these kinds of allegations issued against them into my network?

      (Instafab doesn’t have trouble…)
      I can only assume that this attention is at least partially earned. It doesn’t seem like this was dreamed up one day by employees with the intent of smearing InstaFab’s reputation. I don’t know a single contented worker that would choose to try to put their employer out of business for no reason. I have my own experience with InstaFab. For others, the key to wisdom is learning from mistakes, whether they be your own or others. So asking someone their opinion on a specific sub, and getting negative feedback, you only have yourself to blame when striking workers are standing in front of your job site.

      (how is it legal to try to prevent a business…….)
      No I don’t know what the striker’s intentions are. But no does except them. I do think its ethical to use the resources in place to put a non ethical employer out of business. From an outsider’s perspective, If you are an ethical business, let them make their noise and leave. If I was an unethical business owner, I would be as nervous as you seem to be. Again, not to be confrontational, just telling you what the world sees.

      (it seems like companies have no rights…)
      The reason worker’s rights are a higher priority is because nine times out of ten, its the employer who is taking advantage of the worker. Again, outsider perspective, you did fire them, realize you stepped in it, and tried to wash your boot. It’s only after the fact that you say you didn’t fire them.

      (no job is perfect…)
      14 people out of 70 people is 20% of your work force.

      (I am disgusted by the childish antics…)
      It’s not the Field Superintendent’s financial responsibility to buy water, a shack or fall protection for his crew. Again, if you can prove you had these things in place or he had the means and was expected to buy them and didn’t, prior to the strike, I agree its on him. I doubt he was unwilling, but equipping your guys is your responsibility, no one else’s.

      (it saddens me that small businesses have to put up with so much…)
      The fact that there are several ways to look at this is exactly what I was pointing out. An entitled office worker is the guy who thinks that he keeps the field employed. That’s not the case. True, without the office worker the field wouldn’t have a job, but the same is true that without the field crew, the office worker wouldn’t have a job. I was just playing devil’s advocate here, since the original comment was biased in favor of the company’s interest. I can appreciate the stance that not everyone is worth the same amount, and that will vary case by case.

      (KBOO compared to Jerry Springer…)
      My Springer reference was intentionally as off the mark as the original comment that since both parties weren’t present, the radio program should therefore not be considered broadcast journalism. Every form of news skews information one way or another. It’s up to the discernment and leanings of the listener/viewer/reader what they will take away from it. I didn’t listen to the broadcast, nor do I really have the desire to. But I am not the target audience, since I read about the story, so I guess in the end it doesn’t matter. Bottom line is, No one is going to chase you down to get your story, so if you want to be transparent, go get your own article. I don’t mean that as you shouldn’t be on this forum, but if you truly are feeling misrepresented, go make it right. The problem that you need to be concerned about, being in the spotlight usually brings others you’ve wronged in the past (Kirk in the office) out of the woods and may shed more light on dirty laundry than you want.

      Don’t take anything I say the wrong way. Actions speak louder than words. A spin on Tony Robbins, If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always be who you’ve always been. If you have always been a fair and ethical employer, this will all blow over. If you haven’t been ethical, you can expect change; whether you do for your self, the NRLA does it for you, or the union runs you out of business.

  27. Confused-

    You’re right- I blew the whole strike thing. We did what we always do when someone stops showing up- we assume that they are not coming back, and we wrap up their paperwork with their last check. While I agree that it was a complete mistake on my part, I wouldn’t describe it as a “knee jerk” reaction. Hopefully the NLRB will realize that it wasn’t meant as punishment or retaliation. I think that intent should be considered in their decision. We’ll just have to wait and see.

    It sounds like you believe that, if I can prove that many of the strikers claims are not true (water on jobsites, safety gear, meals and rest breaks, overtime, insurance, etc) that I should make that information known? Who would I show? We are not being accused of any of that by anyone except the strikers and the union, and they don’t want to hear any of that. There are no agencies that would typically deal with those types of claims involved at all.

  28. Hi-

    Instafab opened a Facebook page today. We want to be able to update and communicate about the workers strike, and provide general information about our company. We’ve had a lot of negative press lately, and I believe there is another perspective.



  29. This has gotten so out of hand!!!!!! Does anyone know the truth any more? Instafab isn’t the best company. ….Bruce Perkins IS a shity Employer, but this have been blown out of per portion. What ever happened to the truth? I’m going to catch shit for this, but I’ve never cared what people think!

    • The only reason this labor dispute looks to be blown out of proportion is because the real question isn’t about water on job sites or paying for safety harnesses..

      It’s about whether or not Instafab is forced to go union. Of course there are other problems that need to be addressed, and we have been working on those issues, but the real issue is and always has been the union.

  30. I was recentley fired from instafab while caring for my dog with a cancerous tumor and my wife who is due to give birth at anytime..will and ron gregg are the worst most miserable people i have ever worked for…they have such huge egos it gets in the way of their thinking..3 days i was off taking care of my family and got fired for it..ron is such a diva..his mood swings are crazy…you never know what to expect from the guy..he wants so much respect but treats everyone with contempt and acts like a child…i referred two of my friends who are working there now and im worried i made a mistake luring them there for work…i wish i could have at least talked with bruce the owner..he seems a little more a damn good employee who got shit on because i didnt kiss rons ass enough..oh well good riddance.but of trash for management


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