By COLIN STAUB
In ballots counted Sept. 20, commercial ship painters at Speciality Finishes in Seattle voted 6-0 to join their Portland counterparts in affiliating with Painters Local 10.
Specialty Finishes is a subsidiary of Vigor Industrial that operates at Vigor shipyards in Portland and Seattle. While the general Vigor workforce concentrates solely on ship repair, Specialty Finishes does repair work and fabricates components for offsite projects, like the suicide deterrent barrier at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
Workers at the two shipyards have long been union; members of multiple unions, they negotiate together, jointly represented by the AFL-CIO Metal Trades Department. Until recently, the Specialty Finishes workers were nonunion outliers.
Workers at the Portland location voted to unionize with Painters Local 10 in August, and workers at the Seattle location launched a union drive shortly after. Local 10 business representative Scott Oldham says workers were encouraged by the Portland campaign’s success.
Bargaining for a first contract is expected to begin next week, and the two locations will likely be under a single contract.
Business is picking back up at the Portland shipyard after a summer of inconsistent work. Oldham, who also serves as president of the Portland-vicinity Metal Trades Council that bargains the wider Metal Trades contract, says the shipyard is looking to hire about 200 workers across all crafts to handle the influx in ship work.