FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 15, 2023
Safe Work for Safe Roofs
Rally behind workers fired for demanding a safe workplace
Bellingham: On Thursday February 16th construction workers employed by Mt. Baker Roofing company in Bellingham, WA will start the fourth day of a work stoppage at 6am. The workers are calling for community support, by joining their picket at 928 Thomas Road, and by contacting the company directly to highlight their demands.
The workers are protesting the failure by Mt. Baker Roofing to respect their basic work-place and safety demands, recently communicated in writing. They’re also speaking out against the company for retaliating against the worker who delivered the demands by firing him on February 13th, along with four members of his crew.
Ramon Torres, president of Familias Unidas por la Justicia said, “We support workers when they stand up. These workers were retaliated against for simply asking for the company to have a safe and secure workplace and to follow the state rules.”
Their demands include access to bathrooms, drinking water, training, PPE and consistent schedules. They have also called on the company to provide basic workplace equipment that is necessary to carry out their jobs, instead of expecting workers to bear the expense themselves.
The company claims they are providing some of these amenities. However, according to a former crew lead at the Mount Vernon location, they only started doing so after a worker submitted a claim to Washington State Labor & Industries (L&I) and they carried out a site visit.
“This work stoppage shows that we still have a long way to go for workers to feel safe. When one goes to work, we should be treated with respect and have basic things like water and bathrooms available”, stated Edgar Franks, political director of Familias Unidas por la Justicia.
Roofers are calling on the community to support their strike until demands are met. They are asking for participation at the work stoppage site on Thursday Feb 16, starting at 6am at 928 Thomas Rd, Bellingham, WA 98226 to let Mark Kuske know the public is paying attention.
The public can also show support by calling the owner of Mt. Baker Roofing, Mark Kuske, to elevate the worker’s demands. The workers are calling on Kuske to reinstate fired workers, to follow WA state law by adopting appropriate safety measures, and to enact workers’ demands by:
Complying with WA State law in establishing appropriate breaks periods during the workday;
Providing portable bathrooms on site, or close enough to be easily accessible, as well as clean water to wash hands;
Providing clean drinking water, especially as temperatures rise;
Holding regular safety trainings for new employees and reviewing safety procedures at new job sites, as recommended by WA Labor and Industry;
Providing employees with appropriate equipment to do their work safely, including tools and knee pads;
Compensation for time spent traveling to job sites, waiting periods and unproductive time that is built into the projects;
Respecting all employees;
Sticking to a consistent schedule, especially for breaks and lunch.
Callers can contact Mt. Baker Roofing at (360) 733-0191, and leave a message if they do not answer.
“Hi, my name is _______ and I’m calling because I’m concerned about the working conditions faced by workers at Mt. Baker Roofing. The company should listen to the demands made by its employees, and take immediate action to ensure better working conditions. I urge you to reinstate the workers who were recently fired for bringing attention to these issues. I intend to keep an eye on how this situation develops, and support workers by withholding my business.”
Political Director, Familias Unidas por la Justicia