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.