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Strike Ends at Fort Lee, Barbers Emerge Victorious

Fort Lee, Va. (October 28, 2021) – After nearly four months on strike, Fort Lee barbers are off the picket line and back in the barbershops.

The barbers, the barbers’ union representative LIUNA Public Service Employees Local Union 572 (Local 572), and the barbers’ employer Sheffield Barbers reached a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that went into effect on October 25.

This new CBA resolves the barbers’ main issue which was Sheffield Barbers’ refusal to pay them a percentage of the current posted price of a haircut. From now until 2025 when the contract expires, the barbers will earn 53% of the current posted price. At this time, that price is $13.25, so barbers will start earning $7.02 per haircut. If the posted price increases before 2025, then the barbers will earn 53% of that increased posted price.

“We are not stuck with a wage from the past anymore, but a wage that will make for a better future,” said veteran and barber Eugene Harris.

$7.02 is nearly $1 more than the $6.19 per haircut that the barbers previously earned when Sheffield Barbers’ paid the barbers a percentage of the posted haircut price from 2017.

“Those extra dollars add up,” said barber Michael Kates II. “Staying on strike for so many months had its challenges. It was worth it though because now I’m earning a fair wage and I don’t have to leave a place that I love.”

The Army and Airforce Exchange Services (AAFES) awarded Sheffield Barbers the contract for the Fort Lee barbershops in 2019 and, due to the strike, Sheffield Barbers was in danger of losing the contract.

Approximately 20 barbers went on an unfair labor practice (ULP) strike starting on July 4 after Sheffield Barbers made their last, best, and final offer in contract negotiations of a $0.06 increase per haircut. Throughout the strike, elected officials and other labor unions joined the barbers on the picket line.

The barbers’ strike was one of the first in a series of strikes that are happening across the country.

“We are seeing a nationwide surge of solidarity among workers, but I cannot say enough about the strength and solidarity of our barbers,” said Local 572 Business Manager Sonia Vasquez Luna. “No matter how tired they were or how hot it was, they were determined to win and they succeeded.”

Along with the barbers, Local 572 also represents janitorial, housekeeping, gas station, and food service employees on the base.

Affiliated with the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), LIUNA Public Service Employees Local 572 represents over 3,500 public employees and service contract employees in Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia, and North Carolina.