Northwest Carpenters Union Settles Strike

A rally last month in Kent Washington of striking carpenters. (Image Credit: Alan Berner)

Members of the Northwest Carpenters Union – a union representing 12,000 workers in Western and Central Washington—voted from Thursday, Oct. 7, to October 11 on whether to accept the fifth tentative agreement with the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Washington. After voting down four tentative agreements, and with 5,318 members casting their vote, the results are in: 53.65% voted to accept the contract; while 46.35% voted no.

The details of the contract include:
A three-year contract, an increase to wages and benefits of $10.02 (15.43% increase), an expanded parking zone in Seattle to include First Hill and increased to $1.50 per hour; a first-ever parking zone established in Bellevue starting June 2022 at $1.50 per hour, and retroactive wages for members working on certain jobs to June 1, 2021.

With 46.35% voting no, the result is far from a ringing endorsement for these terms. In particular, workers wanted a higher wage increase to keep up with housing costs in the Seattle area.

If this contract includes better terms than the fourth rejected tentative agreement, it’s thanks to more militant workers organized in the Peter J. McGuire Caucus who put more pressure on AGC, by expanding the picketing to more areas and organizing solidarity rallies. However, they did this without and against their union leadership.

The future is with these militant workers, who showed the way by organizing independently from their elected officials, to engage more of their sisters and brothers in the fight against AGC.  It also lies in understanding that signing a no-strike pledge is always a trap for workers, and just puts another obstacle in the way of broadening their fight.

The contract may be signed but the fight is far from over!