Union contract pays off for NAS Whidbey workers
This month, nearly 250 URS workers will get the 3-percent raises spelled out in the contract they ratified with the company in July, after voting to join the Machinists Union in December 2010.
In addition to the 3-percent raises, workers in five specific job classifications are getting an additional $1 an hour. They’ll get similar dollar-an-hour increases in each of the next two years, to bring their pay up to the area wage determination, which is the standard pay rate for people who do their kind of work in Western Washington, as calculated by the federal government.
Before joining the union, the URS workers were paid based on the national wage determination, which is lower.
The pay raises will begin during their Nov. 11 pay period, said Jon Holden, a Business Representative for Machinists Union District Lodge 751 who helped the URS workers negotiate their first contract.
Along with the pay increases, the URS workers at NAS Whidbey also began accruing sick leave as of Nov. 1. Prior to their union contract, they had no sick leave benefit, Holden said. The new contract also locked in vacation benefits that URS workers at some non-union locations recently lost.
Things like this show “it’s clear we needed union representation,” said Greg Gingelstetter, a URS employee at NAS Whidbey who was part of the unionization effort. “This collective bargaining agreement will change a lot of the wrongs that had plagued our workforce for way too long.”
Some of the benefits have already kicked in.
For example, URS workers on TDY — temporary deployments away from NAS Whidbey — now receive standby time under certain circumstances. Pay for travel time to and from the TDY assignments was also addressed and improved under the contract.
Some of the benefits still are to come. The pension plan, for instance, starts on Jan. 1.
The new Machinists Union members do maintenance on EA-6B Prowlers and EA-18G Growlers flown by the U.S. Navy. They have become part of Machinists Union Local Lodge 751-A, which is affiliated with Seattle-based District Lodge 751.
“The URS workers do a job that’s essential to maintaining America’s might,” said District 751 President Tom Wroblewski. “I’m proud to have them as part of our union.”
Originally formed in 1935 to represent hourly workers at Boeing, District Lodge 751 of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers now represents some 30,500 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.