Black construction workers demand Sherwin-Williams to keep promises, include them in headquarters project

Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 6:34 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Civil rights groups and Black construction workers stood in front of Sherwin-Williams’ current headquarters Thursday, demanding the company live up to their commitment.

“That’s what we’re demanding: [it’s] our seat at the table,” Norm Edwards with the Black contractors group, said.

Protesters claim the Cleveland-based paint company is not honoring their promise to name a Black-owned firm as one of the lead contractors on the construction of their new downtown headquarters.

“They only want to give us peanuts, and we’re better than peanuts,” Edwards said.

Yesterday, Sherwin-Williams released a statement, announcing they hired 5 minority firms for construction management services, as well as carpentry, painting, and millwork. According to protesters, these positions are not enough.

“You’re talking about millions to just one hundred thousand,” Edwards said. “We’re talking 25-30 million dollar contracts to white contractors and 100-200 thousand dollars for the black contractors.”

President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Dr. Charles Steele Jr., says the lack of inclusion reaches beyond Cleveland: “Sherwin-Williams is all over the world, making all kinds of money…we’re in a capitalistic society without any capital.”

19 News reached out to Sherwin-Williams for a response to the claims by protesters during the demonstration. A spokesperson referred 19 News to yesterday’s press release. The Cleveland-based company is in its second phase of a three-part design process, which could break ground by the end of the year.

“Sherwin Williams, we’re not going away, we are here for the long haul,” Edwards said.

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