Reprinted from NorthWest Labor Press
By DON McINTOSH
Members of IBEW Local 48 have ratified three collective bargaining agreements in the last month. Together the agreements cover nearly all of the union’s 6,000 members.
IBEW stands for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Most IBEW Local 48 members work for contractors that are part of NECA, the National Electrical Contractors Association in a jurisdiction that runs from McMinnville to Madras, Oregon, in the south, as far north as Woodland, Washington, and west to the Oregon Coast.
The newly ratified agreements run three years, from Jan. 1, 2024 to Dec. 31, 2026.
The biggest of the three, ratified Oct. 23, is Local 48’s inside wireman and material handler agreement, which covers 4,209 members who work as electricians in commercial and industrial construction and as material handlers who deliver equipment. It raises total compensation by $13 an hour: $4.50 in years one and two and $4 in year three. Members vote on how they want to divide each year’s increase between wages and benefits. Currently journeyman inside wireman make a $57.35 an hour wage plus $28.94 in benefits. Of the $4.50 first-year increase, members voted to put $3.15 into wages, $0.90 into the defined benefit pension, and $0.10 in a 401(k) and $0.35 into the Flex Plan, a fund that can be used for health expenses or wage replacement in case of unemployment.
Local 48’s new sound and communication agreement, ratified Oct. 26, covers about 600 limited energy electricians who work in telecommunications and low-voltage installation. It raises total compensation $12 over three years, $4 each year. Currently journeyman sound and communication electricians earn a $47.66 base wage plus $22.97 an hour in benefits. Members voted to devote $2 of the first year increase to wages, $1 to the pension, and $1 to the 401(k).
The smallest of the three is Local 48’s residential agreement, which covers 115 electricians who work in small-scale residential construction or residential service work like repairs and remodels. The new agreement raises total compensation $9 an hour over three years, $3 each year. Journeymen members in residential currently make a $37.15 an hour wage and $19.52 an hour in benefits. The contract also has a classification called master residential journeyman (those who have more than 4,000 hours of journeyman experience); they make a $46.56 an hour wage plus $28.34 an hour in benefits.
The new inside wireman and sound and communication agreements also apply overtime rates to the union-sponsored pension.
For all three agreements, the annual increases take effect Jan. 1.
Local 48 adopted a different approach to bargaining this year known as interest-based bargaining. The process was led by consultant C. Richard Barnes, a longtime former head of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. Tualatin-based Plumbers Local 290 also used Barnes and interest-based bargaining in contract negotiations that concluded early this year.
Local 48 business manager Garth Bachman said the union made no concessions, and he feels pretty good about the agreements overall.