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Carpenters in Seattle area go on strike

September 16, 2021 GMT

SEATTLE (AP) — A strike by carpenters in Washington state is expected to slow work at hundreds of construction projects across the region, include Microsoft office projects.

The Seattle Times reports the walkout for higher pay by carpenters in the state is the first in nearly 20 years. With a 56% to 44% vote during the weekend, members of the Northwest Carpenters Union rejected a tentative contract deal. Picket lines were planned Thursday.

However most of the Seattle area’s biggest projects, such as Climate Pledge Arena and Sound Transit light rail construction, have agreements in place preventing a strike.

At those sites, union carpenters will keep working and pay a portion of their wages into a strike fund to support those who walked out. About 2,000 of the union’s roughly 12,000 members work at sites where they can strike, according to the union.

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Carpenters say they’re pushing for bigger pay increases to keep up with the cost of living.

The Association of General Contractors of Washington, which represents the carpenters’ employers, says it offered workers a “strong package” of pay raises.

According to the union, a journey-level member currently makes about $1,877 a week, and that pay would have incrementally increased during the next four years by a total of $376, or $9.40 per hour.

Union members who rejected the deal are calling for a $15 increase over three years and better parking pay, said Joe Sosa, a carpenter who voted against the latest contract proposal.