Union holiday stockings spark angry confrontation


Sheet Metal Local 16 organizer Darrin Boyce says the company owner’s daughter was furious. 

In June, workers at 360 Sheet Metal in Vancouver voted 12 to 9 to join Sheet Metal Local 16. Now Boyce, fellow organizer Matt Haines and local president Dustin Hysmith were outside 360’s shop Dec. 22 giving out Christmas stockings to all 17 workers. Each stocking contained a $100 Visa gift card, chocolates, a lock (to stop managers snooping in their toolboxes) and a notebook (to document company wrongdoing). 

Local 16 says company wrongdoing has been ongoing: Workers are paid at or close to minimum wage, even when they do work that’s covered under Washington’s prevailing wage law. And since the union vote, two union supporters have been fired. Negotiations over a first union contract haven’t been going well.

So when Amanda Strickland, daughter of company owner Beverly Martin and a project assistant at 360, heard the union giveaway, she stormed out of the shop yelling that it was disrespectful. Why? It turned out that the union arrived just after the company put on a holiday party at which it gave out … 6” Jimmy John’s sub sandwiches and bags of chips.

“I said, ‘Hey, Merry Christmas,’” Boyce says, “and she turned around and went back into building.”

Did the union stockings embarrass the owners and make them look cheap? The next day, the company gave out gift cards too, workers later told Boyce. Denomination: $50.

NOTE: The Labor Press left a message with Strickland to get her version of events and will update this story when we hear back.


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