By MALLORY GRUBEN
Portland painters postponed a May Day strike about 12 hours before hitting picket lines.
More than 300 commercial, industrial and bridge painters in Painters Local 10 were poised to strike May 1 after rejecting an offer by Oregon Signatory Painting Contractors Organization (SPCO) that included about a total $8.12 raise over three years. SPCO made that offer after two sessions of mediated bargaining April 25 and 27, and members voted on it April 29. Painters District Council 5 representative Scott Oldham said the vote drew a historic turnout of members, and that night members received notice that a strike would start at 5 a.m. May 1.
Then, around 5 p.m. April 30, SPCO submitted an “11th hour” offer for $9.66 raises over three years, including a $3.66 raise in the first year. Local 10 postponed the walkout so members could vote on the new offer. That vote was set for May 4, after this edition of the paper went to press.
The previous three-year collective bargaining agreement between Local 10 and SPCO provided the highest raises painters had seen in decades. That agreement expired March 31, but union negotiators agreed to extend the contract to April 30, in exchange for a commitment by SPCO that any raises in the eventual agreement would be retroactive to April 1.
Wages are the center of the dispute, because painters are the lowest paid construction trade in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Low wages have led painters to take on additional work or side gigs to afford bills. Some have left the industry entirely, according to a union resolution.
[UPDATE 5/5/23: Members ratified the new three-year contract May 4.]
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