Oregon Iron Works is merging into Vigor Industrial, the two companies announced May 21. Both are big industrial enterprises that employ hundreds of union members in the Portland area.
At Oregon Iron Works, about 250 members of Ironworkers Shopmens Local 516 make products from streetcars to boats to parts for nuclear and hydroelectric facilities.
Vigor, meanwhile builds and repairs ships, particularly barges, tugboats, ferries, and fishing boats. It employs 1,800 workers in Alaska, Oregon and Washington, including about 600 union workers in Portland at facilities in the Swan Island Industrial Park. When the merger is finalized by the end of June, Oregon Iron Works will be a wholly owned subsidiary of Vigor.
At Oregon Iron Works, the initial reaction of some employees was concern about possible job losses, said Local 516 Business Manager A.J. Blair. But Blair said he thinks the merger will be good for employment, because the combined company will be better positioned to compete for new business.
Portland Metal Trades Council President Bud Bartunek shared Blair’s optimism: Merging with Oregon Iron Works could help Vigor expand beyond marine work into things like oil rigs and dam gates, Bartunek said, and more diverse jobs would mean steadier work all around.
At Vigor’s Portland ship repair yard, workers make $16 to $31.37 an hour, depending on craft and experience, under a contract with the Metal Trades Council of Portland and Vicinity that includes members of 10 unions: Asbestos Workers Local 36, Boilermakers Local 104, IBEW Local 48, Laborers Local 296, Machinists District Lodge W24, Operating Engineers Local 701, Painters Local 10, Plumbers and Fitters Local 290, Teamsters Local 162, and Sheet Metal Workers Local 16. The contract expires December 2015.
At Oregon Iron Works, Local 516 represents all production workers at the company’s facilities in Clackamas and Vancouver. Entry-level helpers and parts workers start at $13 to $15 an hour, while journeymen make $22 to $25 an hour, Blair said. The contract expires Aug. 15.