IBEW Local 125 authorizes strike at Pacific Power

Workers across Northern Oregon and Southeastern Washington voted overwhelmingly Sept. 1 to reject a contract offer and authorize the union bargaining committee to call a strike at Pacific Power.

We’re not wanting to have anything further taken away.” — Local 125 Business Manager Travis Eri.

IBEW Local 125 represents 320 linemen, meter readers, substation wiremen and other workers at the electric utility, in a service area that extends from Astoria to Bend to Walla Walla. Pacific Power and parent company PacifiCorp are owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy.

Local 125’s most recent contract with Pacificorp, which ran through Jan. 25, contained raises of just 1 percent—lower than inflation. The one before that terminated workers’ pension plan and substituted a 401(k).

“We’re not wanting to have anything further taken away,” said Local 125 Business Manager Travis Eri.

Eri said that explained why turnout for the vote was 95 percent, and so was the margin of votes against the company offer —even though the difference between the union and company positions appears slight. The two sides agree on annual raises of 2 percent, and other terms, but disagree on the split of health insurance premiums. Local 125 is holding fast to the current split in which workers pay 22 percent of the premium—which is already $400-$600 a month out of their paychecks.

Pacific Power wants a four-year deal in which the employee share rises to 25 percent in the fourth year—the same percentage it got in hard bargaining from IBEW Local 57 in Salt Lake City. Pacific Power workers in Southern Oregon are represented by IBEW Local 659.

Local 125 plans to picket  Pacific Power’s Lloyd Tower headquarters in Portland starting at 8 a.m. Sept. 23, and is considering an ongoing picket there.

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