By COLIN STAUB
Union workers at the Portland and Seattle shipyards approved a three-year agreement with Vigor Marine April 28, after the company offered wages and bonuses significantly higher than in its initial offer.
The contract covers 986 workers represented by the AFL-CIO Metal Trades Department, including members of the Boilermakers, IBEW, Painters, Laborers, Sheet Metal, Pipefitters, Machinists, Teamsters and Operating Engineers.
It includes a $1.25 per hour raise effective May 2, another $1.30 increase on December 1, and a $1.40 raise on December 1, 2023. That equates to about a 3.5% to 4.5% raise per year, said Scott Oldham, president of the Portland-vicinity Metal Trades Council. The agreement also provides a $5 per hour bonus for every hour worked between December 2021 and April 10, 2022. Oldham said that will run between $1,000 and $3,000.
The contract passed with 564 votes in favor and 242 votes against, for an overall approval rate of 70%. About 82% of the bargaining unit voted.
The vote came nearly five months to the day after the last contract expired, and after workers voted twice to authorize a strike. If they had voted the latest agreement down, a strike would have been a near certainty.
During the negotiations, the Metal Trades Council held a series of actions to build support for a possible strike. Oldham said that created a strong unity among workers across the various trades, and that the solidarity puts the unions in a good bargaining position for the future.
“It wasn’t about crafts anymore, it was more about, ‘We’re all in the Metal Trades and we’ve got to get a fair deal,’” Oldham said.
Portland shipyard workers are currently servicing the second of two consecutive cruise ships, and they’re anticipating working on multiple Navy ships in July.