Workers ratify contracts, keep farm water flowing

Central Washington farmers will continue to have a reliable flow of irrigation water, after union members ratified a series of contracts with the Columbia Basin Project this fall.

More than 200 workers represented by the South Columbia Basin Trades Council ratified the separate four-year contracts in a series of votes in August and September. The Council represents members of the Machinists Union — along with members of the Operating Engineers, Teamsters and Laborers’ unions — and jointly negotiates contracts for union members in three bargaining units.

The union workers maintain more than 5,000 miles of irrigation ditches, drains and canals, which provide water to more than 670,000 acres of irrigated cropland across Central Washington. With that water, Washington farmers grow several billions of dollars worth of apples, grapes, hops and other crops.

“Each job is vital to our state’s agricultural industry,” said Tom Wroblewski, the president of Machinists Union District Lodge 751.

Among the contract improvements:

  • Workers based in Pasco will get raises of  3 percent in the first year of their contract, with 2.5 percent raises in years two and three, plus cost-of-living increases.
  • Workers based in Othello will get raises of 50 cents an hour in the first year, and 45 cents an hour in years two and three. They also got a $500 ratification bonus and the option to take comp time.
  • Workers based in Quincy will get raises of 3 percent in the first year, and 2 percent in each of the next two years. They got $500 ratification bonuses, plus cost-of-living increases.

More details are available in the current issue of the Eastern Washington Machinists News, which is now available online.

Also in this issue, you’ll find stories on:

  • How the 19 Machinists Union members working for Tri-County Disposal in Goldendale have merged into the bargaining unit representing the 170 workers at the Roosevelt Landfill, which is another division of the same employer, Allied Waste. The move “improved pay and benefits in difficult economic conditions and streamlined the process for everyone,” said union Steward Garry Shane.
  • The $1,073 donated by Machinists Union members across Washington to help a member of Local 1951 who lost his Yakima County home in a fire this summer.
  • Fundraising for Guide Dogs of America by Local 1951 members in Yakima, which added some $1,400 to the already-record total raised by Eastern Washington Machinists this year.

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. District 751 is made up of a network of local lodges that includes Local 86 in Spokane, Local 1123 in Wenatchee and Local 1951 in Richland.

To contact a District 751 officer to learn how a union contract can help you, click here.

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