About 150 workers at Wood Mechanix will soon decide whether to affiliate with the United Brotherhood of Carpenters (UBC) Local 1503.
The Portland-based commercial wood framing contractor has been an open shop (hiring workers regardless of union membership) for decades. Carpenters organizer Jamie Corban says the union has had discussions with workers there for 20 years. But the current organizing campaign kicked off last summer, when Local 1503 union reps were visiting an interior systems contractor on site at the University of Oregon’s Hamilton/Walton residence hall construction project in Eugene. Wood Mechanix workers were on the job alongside union outfits, and a handful of workers asked questions about the benefits of union membership.
At Wood Mechanix, journey-level workers on non-prevailing wage projects make between $22 and $30 per hour depending on how long they’ve been there, Corban said, and they pay for their own benefits. (For comparison, under the master labor agreement between Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters and Oregon-Columbia Association of General Contractors, journey-level carpenters make $44.80 doing framing, with $19.21 in additional fringe benefits.)
Local 1503 filed a representation petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on Dec. 7. Both parties are currently awaiting an NLRB decision on how the election will be conducted. Local 1503 prefers a mail-in ballot election, while Wood Mechanix wants an in-person vote.
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