Forty Insulation Workers Walked-Off the Job Today - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Forty Insulation Workers Walked-Off the Job Today

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KENNEWICK, Wash-- About 40 workers from Intermountain West Insulation in Kennewick walked off the job today. They claim their wages aren't high enough, but managers at the company disagree.

They say if the workers do not come back they will have to hire a new work force. Workers say they want a 25 percent wage increase and fully paid medical benefits. Managers say in this tight economy they can only meet them halfway. 

Only ten insulation workers are out on jobs, the rest showed up but left feeling frustrated because they want a higher wage.

"They've been talking about how they'll fix it later but it has been going on for too long now," said Abel Flores, Employee at Intermoutain West Insulation

Flores, who has worked with the company for three years says he sometimes makes $60 to $70 a day.

"We've just got to the point where nobody cares anymore. They are willing to lose their job if prices don't go up," said Flores.

The original owners son says in 28 years of business this has never happened before.

"A lot of our installers have been with us for years, that's why we are kind of a little surprised," said Chris Moody, Company Controller at Intermountain West Insulation.

Day to day workers show up to the shop, get paperwork and drive to the insulation job. They are paid a piece rate per job. Management says they are usually making more money than an hourly wage.

"We've had guys that if they can't make enough here, we've said insulation is probably not where you should be. We've asked guys to not be here because they should probably be doing something, like at Wal-Mart, where they can make the same amount of money but it's a little bit easier," said Moody. 

Moody says it's a few guys pressuring other workers. Some of the workers make up to $50k a year. If they don't come back, he will be forced to hire new workers.

One worker who has been with the company for nine years wants to work but feels he has no choice.

"For me it's not enough every time, for bills for everything. It's not enough for all people," said Nick Ursul employee at Intermountain West Insulation.

Today management agreed to a 13 percent pay increase but can't offer anymore. They've had to drop their price to contractors by 20 percent because homes are not selling.
The company finance controller says the low housing market is making everyone in the insulation business hungry for work.