Union electricians vote to authorize strike

About 1,700 electricians in the East Metro are poised to strike if negotiations between their union and members of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) do not progress in the coming weeks.

Members of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 110 voted June 8 to reject their employers’ proposal for a new three-year contract. More than 90 percent of voting members cast “no” votes, authorizing union leaders to call a strike if they deem it necessary.

The contractors’ last proposal included modest annual wage increases in each of the three years. The raises were barely large enough, however, to cover the rising cost of members’ health insurance premiums, according to the union.

In the first year of the contract, employers are offering to increase hourly wages by 90 cents. That sounds good, Local 110 Business Manager Jamie McNamara said, “but the rub is our medical plan needs about 80 cents of that, plus the fact is we haven’t had a raise for two years.”

The union is seeking a raise of $1.75 per hour in the first year of the contract, with 10-cent increases in each of the next two years.

McNamara said Local 110 is preparing for the worst, but hopeful the two sides can find common ground.

“We’re moving toward going on strike, but hopefully it won’t go there,” he said.

The agreement between Local 110 and East Metro members of NECA covers about 1,700 electricians, including 500 unemployed members who are eligible to vote on contract proposals.

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