Painters strikes end with major wage wins


On June 16, instead of showing up to work for painting contractor Siegner and Company, Local 10 members picketed outside the company offices at 8824 N Lombard St, Portland.

By Don McIntosh

After weeks of escalating strike action, Painters Local 10 reached a tentative agreement with Signatory Painting Contractors Organization (SPCO) that if ratified, will increase total compensation by $3.50 to $4 an hour in the next 12 months. Before the series of strikes that threatened to grow into a “summer of chaos,” the contractor group was offering just 25 cents.

Members are set to vote on the agreement July 1 with the union bargaining committee recommending approval. [6/30/21 UPDATE: The vote will take place July 6]

The agreement covers roughly 440 union members employed as commercial and industrial painters by the 10 contractors that make up SPCO. Journeyman commercial painters were making $26.56 an hour; that will rise to $28 as of July 1, $28.80 nine months later on April 1, 2022, and $29.50 on July 1, 2022. Employers will also pay 56 cents an hour more for health, pension, and market recovery funds.

Meanwhile, industrial painters employed by SPCO will see wages rise from $28.36 to $30.05 an hour as of July 1, $30.97 next April, and $31.80 on July 1, 2022, and they’ll also get the additional 56 cents an hour toward benefits. 

The work stoppages started up on May 21, targeting one site at a time, several times a week. By week five, workers were shutting down all job sites of Siegner and Company, a prominent SPCO member.

These raises are for years two and three of what’s shaping up to be a life-changing three-year contract for local union painters. The first year’s raise was $2.62 and $3.22 an hour for commercial and industrial, respectively. That means altogether, wages will have risen $5.56 or $6.66 an hour (23% or 26%) in three years. 

District Council 5 rep Scott Oldham has described the increases as long-overdue catch-up raises after several decades in which members lost ground to inflation and fell behind all other construction trades.


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