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Electricians in Puget Sound region vote down contract offer as strike nears 10 weeks

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Electricians in Puget Sound region vote down contract offer as strike nears 10 weeks

Jun 12, 2024 | 4:56 pm ET
By Grace Deng
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Puget Sound-area electricians on strike for weeks vote down proposed contract
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An IBEW Local 46 electrician on strike. (IBEW Local 46)

More than 1,000 electricians in the Puget Sound region will remain on strike after voting to reject a proposal from the National Electrical Contractors Association that would have offered higher pay but could have taken away the electricians’ right to strike. 

The strike, which began April 11, has lasted nearly 10 weeks and has disrupted construction at major job sites, including Microsoft and Amazon office buildings. 

The offer from the contractors was not endorsed by the limited energy electricians’ union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 46, and nearly 90% of the union’s members who voted were against it.

The electricians are asking the National Electrical Contractors Association for paid holidays, higher pay and increased safety measures like ensuring radios are available to workers on all job sites. 

The contractors’ proposal included a memorandum of understanding to discuss paid holidays — but no paid holidays — and a wage increase of $12.75 over three years. 

A lead negotiator for IBEW Local 46, Megan Kirby, said the negotiating team decided to bring the contract up for a vote without its endorsement because it was the highest wage offer presented in the union’s history. 

The contractors also “really pushed us to bring it to a vote,” Kirby said, even though the union’s negotiating team said their members would not accept a contract stripping their ability to strike. Kirby said the electricians didn’t need much convincing from the union. 

“Members recognized how terrible it was of a deal and how it would strip away their rights,” Kirby said. 

The full membership of the union’s limited energy electrician unit totals around 1,025. Limited energy electricians install and repair systems like fire alarms, building security systems and phone and fiberoptic lines.

Kirby said that while the union has a strike fund, many members are struggling to get by. 

“We had a member facing eviction, and our members who hadn’t had a paycheck in 10 weeks literally pulled the change from their pockets to help out our brother and raised over $2,000,” Kirby said. 

“Our members are ready to go back to work. They love their jobs,” Kirby added. “They want this to be over more than anyone, and they’re just hoping that NECA will come to the table today with us and come to an agreement that can be voted on.” 

The National Electrical Contractors Association did not immediately return a request for comment but has previously told the Standard that the association cannot comment on ongoing negotiations. 

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the limited energy unit of IBEW 46 went on strike in 1945.