By MALLORY GRUBEN
Members of Laborers Local 737 ratified a new three-year contract with CertainTeed Roofing in a 23-16 vote March 12, ending a strike that began Feb. 22. The strike shut down production at the company’s asphalt roof tile plant at 6350 NW Front Ave. Strikers returned to work March 13 and 14.
The new contract provides the unit’s 57 members with annual raises of 6%, 3%, and 2.5%. That’s about 1.5% more overall than the company’s previous final offer, which members rejected in a unanimous 47-0 vote.
The contract also guarantees Labor Day and Memorial Day weekends off.
“Were they not willing to stand on that picket line for 2.5 weeks, I don’t think we would have gotten this contract,” said Local 737 representative Rick Ohmie.
The agreement does not increase employer pension contributions or lower the maximum 64-hour work week — two items many workers wanted.
The strike was “new territory” for the workers, said lead steward Mike Davies. Workers at the Portland CertainTeed plant last struck in 2013 but were on the picket line for less than a day when the company backed down from its proposal to exit the union health plan.
Solidarity helped keep the 18-day strike positive, Ohmie said. Representatives of the Northwest Oregon Labor Council, Oregon AFL-CIO, Painters Local 10, Portland Jobs with Justice, and Portland Democratic Socialists of America joined the line and brought firewood and supplies.
“We had great union and community support on the line, and I think that really helped us out,” Ohmie said. “I think it helped the steadfastness of our members, to see the community and union support come out there.”