JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD — A group of Machinists Union members who work for a civilian contractor at Joint Base Lewis-McChord has approved its first union contract.
As a result of their vote for the contract, the employees of URS Corp. are in line to receive their first pay raises in the past three years.
The contract was ratified Thursday night with a 76-percent yes vote, Machinists Union District Lodge 751 reported. The three-year deal takes effect on Aug. 3, and covers nearly 350 URS Corp. workers at JBLM who work on military helicopters and do site maintenance.
The promise of raises — after three years with no pay increases — made a big difference, said Jeff Sayres, who had worked with the group at JBLM for 23 years and who served on the union’s negotiating team.
“Pay was a big deal,” he said. “We haven’t had a raise in three years. This contract is something we can count on for the next three years.”
Under the terms of the agreement, the URS workers at JBLM will get:
- Wage increases of 2.75 percent in the first year, 3 percent in the second year and 3.25 percent in the third year;
- Additional 25-cent-an-hour raises in both the second and third years of the contract for workers in seven job categories, plus pay for everyone working nights and weekends and performing particularly difficult or hazardous tasks also would go up;
- Two additional paid vacation days in 2013, a third added vacation day in 2014, plus two paid administrative leave days;
- An increase in cash payments for workers who opt out of company-provided health insurance, while those who stay in the company plan would not pay a smaller share of the premium; and
- A new pension benefit, provided through the International Association of Machinists National Pension Fund.
It was the first union contract for the group. The URS workers had voted to join District 751 in December. Negotiations with the company started in June.
“It’s always hard to get to a first contract,” said Jon Holden, the District 751 Business Rep who led the contract talks. “But this agreement with URS lays a foundation that we’ll be able to build upon in the future.”
“Now that we have this first contract in place, we’ll move forward and get better,” Sayres added. “We’re all on the same track now, and we need to stay there, work together and get it done.”
In 2011, more than 220 workers with URS at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station ratified their first Machinists Union contract, which similarly granted them wage increases, a pension and increases in paid leave time.
There are now more than 600 District 751 members working under Machinists Union contracts for civilian contractors at JBLM and NAS Whidbey.
“We’ve got a lot of union members who do work that’s essential for maintaining America’s might,” said District 751 President Tom Wroblewski. “They deserve pay and benefits that match their skills and dedication, and union contracts can help them achieve that.”
Originally formed in 1935 to represent hourly workers at the Boeing Co., District Lodge 751 of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers now represents some 32,000 working men and women at 48 employers across Washington, Oregon and California. In 2011, District 751 members ratified a four-year contract extension with Boeing that ensured the 737 MAX will be built in Puget Sound.
For more information about District 751, read the Machinists News.