LAUREL, MS (WDAM) - Dozens of employees from Howard Industries lined the streets near the industrial plant Wednesday to protest for higher wages. The protesters are angry because the company decided to give workers a 40 cents pay increase over a three-year period.
Clearance Larkin represents the bargaining unit employees at Howard Industries with the local chapter of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. He said that amount is unacceptable.
"That's basically a 1 percent wage increase and is basically a slap in the face to its employees," Larkin said.
Larkin said wages for Howard's employees are far behind workers in similar factories across the state of Mississippi.
"For instance employees at ABB, a transformer manufacturing plant in Crystal Springs, MS only 90 miles from Laurel, MS earns as a welder $20.18. In contrast a welder's top pay at Howard Industries is $13.43, a difference of $6.45 per hour," Larkin added.
Bargaining for higher wages began in January 2015. Larkins said they asked for a dollar pay increase over a three-year-period, but the company said no.
"People can't live off a 40 cents wage increase," Larkin added.
Roger Doolittle is the attorney that represents the local union. He said Howard Industries receives millions in assistance from the state and the city of Laurel.
"Why should the city help sponsor an employer that has such little regard for its employees, I think social security had an increase of about 1.9 percent this year for people that don't work." Doolittle said
We've reached out to Howard Industries, but have yet to hear back from them.