Shipyard workers reject proposals

The Portland Metal Trades Council has extended collective bargaining agreements at Cascade General Inc. and Mar Com Marine until Dec. 15.

The contract extensions came one week after shipyard workers resoundingly rejected proposals presented by both companies. Employees at Cascade and Mar Com work under separate agreements that expired simultaneously July 1, 2000.

At Cascade, where 1,800 workers were eligible to vote, 416 rejected the proposal while 212 supported it. It is the second offer that ship repair workers have turned down. The first vote last summer was 464 "no" to 179 "yes."

At Mar Com, where 120 workers were eligible to vote, the contract was defeated 31-3. The Metal Trades Council is negotiating a three-year pact at Mar Com and a two-year deal with Cascade. The shorter contract at Cascade would allow for shipyard contracts along the West Coast (including San Francisco and Seattle) to come due at the same time, said Mike O'Rourke, executive secretary-treasurer of the Metal Trades Council and a business representative of Plumbers and Fitters Local 290.

"It's mostly about money at Cascade, especially the second year," he said. "It's a real mess".

At Mar Com, the sticking point is pension contributions, O'Rourke said. Wage hikes of 55 cents the first year and 50 cents the second and third years were acceptable. The council is in the process of polling the bargaining unit and could have another offer to vote on by next week, he said.

Dates for negotiations with either company had not been set as this issue of the NW Labor Press went to press.

Meantime, several local unions are in the process of acquiring strike sanction, should negotiations fall apart. O'Rourke said at the last ratification vote the council received strike authorization from the shipyard workers.

The Metal Trades Council is comprised of union locals of the Boilermakers, Plumbers and Fitters, Machinists, Electricians, Painters, Operating Engineers, Sheet Metal Workers, Laborers, Asbestos Workers, Teamsters, and Pile Drivers.

Cascade General recently purchased the ship repair yard at Swan Island from the Port of Portland.

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