In votes counted Dec. 14, members of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 125 approved a new four-year contract with Pacific Power by 72 percent.
Local 125’s previous collective bargaining agreement with Pacific Power expired Jan. 26, 2015. In June and again in August, members voted down company proposals by overwhelming margins, and on Sept. 1, 2015, they authorized the union to call a strike. But the two sides continued to negotiate, and they reached a tentative agreement Dec. 2 after the company improved its wage and health insurance offers. The union bargaining committee recommended that members approve the deal.
Under the new agreement, workers will get 2 percent wage increases immediately, followed by 2 percent increases on Jan. 26, 2016, and Jan. 26, 2017, and a 2.5 percent increase on Jan. 26, 2018. They’ll also get a one-time stipend of 1 percent of gross wages dating back to January 2015 in lieu of retroactive pay.
Most other terms and conditions remain the same, including the company’s health insurance contribution. The biggest item of contention earlier was Pacific Power’s demand that employees pay 25 percent of the premium in the final year of the contract— up from the current 22 percent, which already amounts to $400 to $600 a month out of paychecks. In the end, the two sides agreed that members will continue to pay 22 percent, unless premiums rise above a set threshold.
The new agreement expires Jan. 25, 2019. It covers about 320 linemen, meter readers, substation wiremen and other workers at the utility in a service area that includes parts of Oregon, Washington, and Montana. Pacific Power and parent company PacifiCorp are owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy.