By DON McINTOSH
Members of United Assocation of Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 290 voted unanimously April 6 to ratify a new master labor agreement covering the gas distribution industry. The agreement — a local add-on to a national agreement — raises wages 14.5% over three years.
The agreement covers about 80 members employed by contractors who install and maintain natural gas pipelines for natural gas utilities like Northwest Natural and Cascade Natural Gas. Under the agreement, wages increase 5% immediately, followed by 5% and 4.5% increases in the second and third years. With the first year raise, journeyman welders now make $50.51 an hour plus $36.95 an hour in benefits, for a total package of $86.96 an hour.
Local 290 business manager Lou Christian described negotiations as tough. It wasn’t until March 31, the final day of the previous contract, that tentative agreement was reached.