Specialty Finishes shipyard painters win raises in first union contract


Newly unionized painters at the shipyards in Portland and Seattle ratified a first contract that improves their health insurance and raises wages $4.06 an hour over three years.

The workers, about 40 in Portland and 20 in Seattle, are employed by Specialty Finishes, a subsidiary of Vigor Industrial Services, which runs the two ship repair facilities. They paint ship parts and put down marine floor coatings, and they’ve been making $6 to $9 an hour less than other union painters working at the shipyards under a multi-union contract between the AFL-CIO Metal Trades Department and shipyard owner Vigor.

Hoping to make what the other workers make, the Portland unit voted to join Painters Local 10 in August 2022, and the Seattle unit followed in September, joining Painters Local 300. The two units bargained together.

Under the agreement members ratified, journeyman painters will get a $1.33 an hour increase, raising base pay to $29.17 an hour in Portland and $30.17 in Seattle. That will be followed by raises of $1.11 May 1, 2024 and $0.89 May 1, 2025. The contract also includes an automatic 4% contribution toward a 401(k) and $7.80 an hour contribution toward health insurance. The contract moves members to the union-sponsored Painters Healthcare Plan starting Oct. 7. It has a lower deductible, and the premium for it will be fully paid by the employer, ending employee health contributions that currently range from $1.05 to $3.10 an hour depending on family size.

The new contract runs through June 30, 2026. 


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