Freightliner contract ratified
PORTLAND, OR -- Employees at Freightliner Inc. in Portland ratified a new three-year collective bargaining agreement on the same day the old contract was set to expire -- June 30.
Some 1,600 workers there are represented by Machinists Lodge 1005, which bargains in unison with Service Employees Local 49, Sign Painters and Paint Makers Local 1094 and Teamsters Local 305.
The Machinists' ratification vote, held at Portland Meadows, approved the pact by an 87 percent margin.
The new pact calls for hourly wage increases of 65 cents, 45 cents and 45 cents over the life of the agreement. The top wage scale right now is $18.95 an hour, said Steve Hillesland, business representative of Machinists District Lodge 24. There is a four-year progression to reach the top wage scale.
Other improvements for the builders of Freightliner's large diesel trucks includes a $500 ratification bonus, a 15-cent hourly increase in pension contributions, full employer-paid health care benefits, no mandatory overtime, and additional vacation days -- July 3 next year and Good Friday starting in 1999 -- taking the total yearly holidays to 14.
Hillesland said there also were improvements in short-term disability benefits, life insurance coverage to $50,000, and hearing aid coverage.
Freightliner's parts manufacturing plant on Swan Island is operating seven days a week, said Hillesland. The company still isn't at its peak of 1996 when it announced massive layoffs. "We still have 180 people laid off," said Hillesland. "They are slowly being called back to work."
The Machinists took early action in the contract talks, holding a parking lot rally with members of the United Auto Workers (UAW), wearing badges and blowing whistles inside the plant.
"We benefited from the outside help," said Hillesland. The Machinists, UAW and Steelworkers are planning to merge into a single union by 2000.
Also involved in the contract talks were Machinists Grand Lodge staffers Frank Santos and Dick Schneider.
The German-owned Freightliner's contract with UAW members in Mt. Holly, N.C., expires in December.
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