At a Boeing paint contractor, workers vote to join Machinists union

Boeing hangars at the Portland airport, where contracted workers paint Boeing planes.
Boeing hangars at the Portland airport, where contracted workers paint Boeing planes.

Workers at Commercial Aircraft Painting Services (CAPS) in Portland voted  80 to 68 on July 8 to join Machinists District Lodge W24.

In the weeks leading up to the vote, CAPS hired union-avoidance consulting firm American Labor Group and brought in as many as eight union-busters, including speakers of Spanish and Vietnamese, to hold one-on-one anti-union meetings with workers.

But their efforts fell flat. About 58 percent of the 165 workers had signed union cards when the union called for an election, says organizer Will Lukens. Thus, the 54 percent pro-union vote suggests that the high-paid out-of-state union-busters may have talked as few as five workers out of supporting the union.

That might be because CAPS is a sky-high-turnover outfit where workers paint Boeing planes in 12-hour graveyard shifts for about half the pay and benefits that union-represented Boeing workers get.

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