SEATTLE (Feb. 12, 2024) — The Port of Seattle is refusing to pay about 80 Airport and Seaport Electricians wages and benefits that are equitable with the region’s market. As a result, these electricians represented by IBEW Local 46 have been forced to work under an expired contract for nine months. The union and the Port have been in contract talks for over a year and in Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) mediation since November 2023.
Now IBEW Local 46 members and their supporters are taking to the streets in a bannering campaign to demand a fair contract. These actions are not a strike, nor are they intended to induce any Port employees to withhold labor or leave the jobsite. This bannering is intended to inform the public about the Port of Seattle’s intransigence in negotiations with its employees.
TAKE A STAND — All union and community supporters of IBEW 46 Port Electricians are invited to show their support at the next bannering action on Tuesday, Feb. 13 from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Pier 69 in front of the Port of Seattle Office Building. A Port Commission meeting that day starts at noon. Nicole Grant of IBEW 46 and MLK Labor’s Katie Garrow will be speaking along with some Port Electricians.
Port Electricians are essential workers who come to work in-person, every day, 24/7 — including during COVID — to keep the Port operating safely and efficiently. They install and maintain critical electrical and life-safety systems that include high voltage power generation and distribution, conveyor and cargo handling, airport runway lighting, wastewater treatment, load bridges, trains, fire alarm, security, power on piers and docks, lighting, and EV stations. They complete rigorous union apprenticeships, are subject to strict licensing requirements, and bring years of experience and expertise to the Port of Seattle.
But Port Electricians are the only licensed building trades group at the Port that does not have their wages and benefits tied to what is received by Union Electricians in Area Trade Agreements. That means the Port is paying highly skilled, licensed electricians at apprentice-level wages.
These essential workers are now calling for fair compensation in line with the external market. Given that stated Port policy is to provide Wage and Benefit Equity for their workers, this shouldn’t be so difficult. Port Electricians are asking to be treated equitably in accordance with Port policy and deserve to have their wages and benefits tied to the outside electrician construction agreement.