For the second time in 40 days, shipyard workers in Portland and the Puget Sound voted down a contract proposal from Vigor Marine. The Feb. 23 vote was also a strike authorization: The rules were that if a two-thirds’ majority rejected the offer, the bargaining committee would be given the authority to take workers out on strike. Workers voted to reject the offer by 80 percent.
“The members are tired of being disrespected,” said UA Local 290 representative Pat Christensen, lead negotiator for the Portland Metal Trades Council.
Members have told us they’ve had enough of working on weekends for straight time. It’s a family quality-of-life issue for our members. They want to be with their families on the weekends, and if they’re not, they want to be compensated for it. — lead negotiator Pat Christensen
But for union workers, the key sticking point was continuation of a “rolling 40” overtime policy in which the work week begins whenever the employer determines. Workers used to be paid overtime for weekend work prior to the master agreement that’s currently in force. Vigor has refused union calls to restore that policy in bargaining thus far.
“We don’t look for a strike,” Christensen said, “but members have told us they’ve had enough of working on weekends for straight time. It’s a family quality-of-life issue for our members. They want to be with their families on the weekends, and if they’re not, they want to be compensated for it.”
The multi-union master agreement falls under the direction of the Metal Trades Department of the AFL-CIO. It covers more than 700 workers at Vigor Marine Portland, Cascade General Portland, Washington Marine Repair Seattle, Vigor Marine Seattle, and Vigor Shipyard Seattle, all of which operate as a single company and are subsidiaries of Vigor Industrial LLC. Side agreements are bargained separately by the Metal Trades Council of Portland and Vicinity, the Puget Sound Metal Trades Council, and Boilermakers Local 104. The metal trades councils are comprised of 10 unions. For the Portland shipyard, those include Plumbers and Fitters Local 290, Operating Engineers Local 701, Boilermakers Local 104, IBEW Local 48, Laborers Local 737, Painters District Council 5, Sheet Metal Workers Local 16, Teamsters Local 162, Machinists District Lodge W24, and Insulators Local 36.
After members rejected the second contract offer, the union coalition proposed further meetings with the company, assisted by a federal mediator, but had not heard back from Vigor as of when this article was posted.