September 18, 2021 EST Statement
PRESS STATEMENT for Saturday, September 18, 2021
Contact: Jeanie-Marie Price, Communications Director, 971-347-5470
Statement from Evelyn Shapiro on Political Interference in Carpenter Union Strike
Executive Secretary-Treasurer Shapiro available on MONDAY ONLY for further media contact
Kent, WA: Evelyn Shapiro, Executive Secretary-Treasurer (principal officer) of the Northwest Carpenters Union, which represents 28,000 hard working men and women across six states, issued the following statement regarding Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant’s interference in union contract negotiations.
“Outside interference in the fight for fair wages for 12,000 hardworking carpenters plays right into the hands of anti-union forces. We appreciate all elected officials who stand with us during the strike, but Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant is going too far by interfering in the NW Carpenter Union’s democracy just to grab the limelight for her own political agenda.
If she or other elected officials want to truly help rank and file workers, they should work with us to address extremely expensive parking rates near work sites. Unlike white collar office workers, carpenters must haul heavy tools to job sites, making parking an expensive and unreimbursed expense that sucks money out of workers’ wallets.
Causing more division during a union strike is a very serious matter. Thousands of real carpenter families with children and rents to pay are putting their bodies and welfare on the strike line, and we must stand united. Anti-union interests are the only ones who benefit from this kind of political meddling. We are grateful for unity and solidarity during the strike from our union brothers and sisters, as well as other elected officials and allies.”
Councilmember Sawant issued this official statement today, further interfering in NW Carpenter Union contract negotiations. Sawant has previously tried to leverage the union’s contract negotiations for her own purposes, including sending this letter and participating in other internal union activities.
The NW Carpenters Union previously asked Councilmember Sawant’s office for help in investigating wage theft on city projects with non-union contractors but got no assistance other than offers of putting her name on a resolution or ordinance that we author.
Stay up-to-date: buildnw.org/WA-info
September 11, 2021 Press Release
RELEASE FOR 7PM PDT, September 11, 2021
Contact: Jeanie-Marie Price, Communications Director, 971-347-5470
NWCU Staff will be available for interviews on Monday.
Union Carpenters in WA Vote to Strike, Could Impact Microsoft Campuses
Members authorize strike, reject AGC offer for 4th time
Kent, WA: Thousands of skilled workers in the construction industry in Western Washington may go on strike as soon as next Thursday. Over 5,000 Northwest Carpenter Union members democratically voted 56% No and 44% Yes to reject a proposal from the AGC and instead authorize a strike. This is the fourth proposal voted down by the membership.
The Carpenters Union will announce which construction projects will be subject to strike in the next three-to-four days.
Examples of sites that could be impacted by the strike:
- Microsoft – Washington Village (Redmond)
- Bellevue Plaza
- Microsoft – Sammamish Village (Sammamish)
- Madison/Boylston Housing
To protect taxpayer investments, many project labor agreements prohibit strikes at certain construction projects, such as Climate Change Arena, the Port of Seattle, Sound Transit and Seattle Schools sites.
Examples of sites NOT impacted by the strike:
- Climate Change Arena
- Port of Seattle
- Sound Transit
- Seattle Schools
Carpenter union members working at these exempt sites must automatically provide at least two hours (about 25%) of their pay to a strike fund to help striking union members every day during the strike.
“Being a union carpenter means the freedom to vote democratically to determine your own wages, benefits and future,” said Evelyn Shapiro, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of Northwest Carpenters Union (principal officer). “Our members have been divided over this historic agreement and we do not take going on strike lightly. We must come together and build an agreement that will unite our membership.”
The rejected agreement would have included:
- 20.4% total package (wages and benefits) increase over four years
- Pay increases retroactive to June 1, 2021
- Increased employer contributions to health care and pension funds
- Stronger harassment and discrimination protections
- Expanded parking reimbursements near certain sites
- Increased employer contributions to training and apprenticeship programs
ABOUT: Northwest Carpenters Union (NWCU) currently represents more than 28,000 members in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming who are changing the industry. With 140 years of history and experience, we are devoted to strengthening the lives of our members, preparing the next generation of carpenters, and building a stronger future for all the communities we serve. NWCU provides the education, training, partnerships, and collaboration that guarantee not just stability, but growth and boundless opportunity in an ever-changing industry. Learn more at www.nwcarpenters.org.
September 10, 2021 EST Statement
STATEMENT OF EVELYN SHAPIRO
Executive Secretary-Treasurer (Principal Officer)
“Carpenters built this city and carpenters built this state. Here in Washington where we build waterfront homes and office suites for millionaires and billionaires, we see firsthand how the gap between workers and the ultra-rich has grown.
Today a union carpenter job is one of the few family wage jobs that you can get without a four-year college degree. But even our family wages do not keep up with the skyrocketing costs of tools, fuel, childcare, housing, parking, and other necessities.
That is why we – as union members – make sure to bargain together. As union members, we regularly come together across zip codes, languages, cultures, and politics to negotiate as one voice.
Being a union carpenter means working together to build buildings and build power. We are ten times stronger when we cross arms together than when we raise our hand alone.
Wage Theft and misclassification in the non-union industry impacts construction more than any other industry in Washington state. Non-union carpenters often struggle to get paid overtime, earn benefits of any kind, and sometimes even must fight to get paid at all. We are proud of the projects we have built. Being a union carpenter means working with contractors to build successful projects on-time, under budget, of the highest quality and craftsmanship.
And best of all, being a union carpenter means the freedom to vote democratically to determine your own wages, benefits, and future.
Whether our members vote yes to accept the AGC’s offer of a 20% raise over 4 years, or if they vote no to reject the offer and authorize a strike, my fellow union carpenters will be exercising their democratic rights in an organization charged with lifting up working people. Our members have been divided on this contract, but in the end we will come together.”
September 8, 2021 Letter to Members
Dear Washington NWCU Members,
Housing, childcare, and living expenses are at an all-time high and the gap between workers and the ultra-rich is growing. Our members are working long hours and there is a tremendous amount of frustration with the divisions in the world. We have also been acting as a divided unit. As a union, we have the opportunity to come together in support of this agreement or come together on a strike.
Last night we announced that the vote on TA4 will double as a strike authorization/intention vote.
To be crystal clear – when you vote on TA4 you are voting whether to go on strike next week.
• A yes vote means you support this TA and oppose a strike
• A no vote means you do not support this TA and you authorize a strike, starting next week.
• If this TA fails (by simple majority), we will go on strike starting Thursday, September 16th.
Your Bargaining Team stands behind this historic agreement, and we recommend a clear and strong “yes” vote. Many members have pushed for a strike and as you consider your vote, we want you to be as informed as possible. Linked here are three critical pieces of information:
1. Section 55B of the UBC Constitution that outlines the rules regarding strike fee assessments – the real and hard daily cost directly assessed to members who work on non-strikable jobs.
2. The list of contractors who have assigned their bargaining rights to the AGC of Washington and may have their jobsites fall within a strike, subject to final determination by the Northwest Carpenters Union.
3. A list of projects that are not subject to strike as they do not assign their bargaining rights to the AGC, Independent Agreements, and no strike/no lock-out provisions in Project Labor Agreements (PLA’s) or other similar agreements attached to the project.
We want to ensure that you are informed of the key components of a strike before you vote. NWCU representatives and bargaining committee members are here to answer any questions you may still have—please reach out.
Our goal is to ensure that as many members as possible raise their voice—no matter which side of the vote you stand on.
Evelyn Shapiro, Jeff Thorson, and the Bargaining Team