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Whidbey Island Machinists ratify first union contract

Machinists Union members working for a contractor on NAS Whidbey Island ratified a four-year labor agreement with a 97-percent yes vote.

OAK HARBOR – Some 250 Machinists Union members working for a defense contractor at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station have ratified their first contract.

The group – all employed by URS Corp. – approved the new four-year agreement with a 97-percent yes vote on Wednesday, July 27.

“The agreement touched on every major issue members identified as important in our surveys,” said Jon Holden, a business representative for Machinists Union District Lodge 751 in Seattle who helped negotiate the deal.

Under the terms of the agreement, the URS employees will receive:

  • Wage increases of 3 percent in the first year, 3.5 percent in the second year, 3.5 percent in the third year and 4 percent in year four; in addition workers in five specific job classifications will receive an additional $1 an hour pay increase in each of the first three years of the deal;
  • Increased pay for employees working night or weekend shifts, and new rules on how workers are to be paid when they deploy for assignments away from NAS Whidbey;
  • Company contributions to a pension plan offered to employees through the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, and increased contributions for health insurance benefits;
  • A grievance and arbitration procedure, improved sick leave and vacation schedules and an allowance for buying safety shoes.

“Initially, I was skeptical about union representation,” said Shannon Carr, a URS employee who was involved in the unionization effort. “But it is clear we needed representation. This collective bargaining agreement will change a lot of the wrongs that have plagued our workforce for way too long.”

The URS workers do maintenance on EA-6B Prowlers and EA-18G Growlers based at NAS Whidbey. They had voted to join the Machinists Union in December 2010, after a year-long organizing campaign. Talks for their first contract began in March.

“Solid, positive contracts like this show the value of gaining union representation,” said Tom Wroblewski, the president of Machinists District 751. “The URS workers do a job that’s essential to maintaining America’s might, and we’re proud to have them as our Machinists Union brothers and sisters.”

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 28,000 working men and women at 45 employers across Washington, Oregon and California. In 2010, District 751 members used collective bargaining to reach contracts with 22 of those employers, without a single work day lost to strikes.

To contact a District 751 officer for information on how a union contract could help you, click here.

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