The union workers at Pacific Power, a subsidiary of PacifiCorp, which is owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy, have been bargaining for a new contract for more than a year. They have rejected two proposals. The most recent was on Sept. 1, at which time they also voted to authorize a strike if needed.
The company is demanding a four-year deal, and it wants to shift more of its health care costs onto workers. Over the last two contracts the company has terminated its pension plan and raised wages just 1 percent a year.
Union electrical workers from other companies joined in the protest knowing that this fight for benefits could easily become their fight for benefits in the future.
“It’s all about solidarity,” said Don Eri, a lineman and Local 125 member at Portland General Electric. “We bargained in good faith for our benefits, and we want to keep them. None of us wants to go down this road.”
Local 125 represents 320 linemen, meter readers, substation wiremen and others at Pacific Power. The service area extends from Astoria to Bend to Walla Walla, Washington.