Low-voltage technicians unit faces work stoppage this week unless NECA improves wage offer
KENT (Feb. 8, 2021) — More than 900 members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 46 employed in the union’s second largest unit — Limited Energy / Sound and Communication — are on the verge of a work stoppage this week after the union reports that negotiators from the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) have been stalling and failing to improve upon a contract offer overwhelmingly rejected by members on Jan. 30.
These highly trained, Washington state licensed essential workers install critical systems, including voice/data, networking, fiber optics, fire alarm, security, digital antennas, building access controls, card readers, telephone, and other related systems in King County and the Kitsap and Olympic Peninsulas. They keep local and regional businesses and tech companies running every day.
But after recent contract negotiations and NECA stalling until only two days prior to the original contract expiration, IBEW 46 brought a proposal the the membership for a vote. “The 900” at IBEW 46 voted Saturday, Jan. 30 to reject NECA’s offer to replace the contract that was to expire the following day. The union immediately served the 10-day notice to terminate the contract, which ends on Wednesday, Feb. 10. So unless NECA improves upon its wage offer by then, these essential workers will be forced out on strike. Since the “NO” vote, NECA has refused to present a better offer with improved wages than the one previously voted down.
“It didn’t have to come to this, but NECA is forcing our hand,” said Sean Bagsby, Business Manager / Financial Secretary for IBEW 46. “For NECA negotiators to refuse to present an improved and equitable offer the members would support is a slap in the face to the Mighty 900. This proud bargaining unit has fallen behind other trades and classifications on wages for years. The work they perform is vital to local industries. All they are looking for is dignity, respect, and fair compensation. But now these essential workers and their families — and all of the regional businesses and companies they serve — face the prospect of a major disruption.”
TAKE A STAND! — Negotiations between IBEW 46 and NECA will resume before Wednesday’s deadline. IBEW 46 needs continued support from the labor community and others to win a fair and equitable contract for these workers. If you see them banner and sign-waving, or if you spot them on the job installing cameras, pulling fiber optic cable, or installing a fire alarm systems to keep your building safe, take a minute and tell these IBEW members that you support them and the brave 900!
Stay tuned to The Stand for updates. For more information, email IBEW 46 Business Representative Frank Woolsey.
IBEW Local 46 has a proud tradition of quality craftsmanship, leadership in the community, excellent wages and benefits for members, and innovation in organizing the unrepresented. Local 46 represents more than 6,200 members in 19 different craft units in King, Kitsap, Jefferson and Clallam counties. For more information, visit the union’s website at ibew46.com.