Seattle, WA: Fighting for the next generation, Sprinklerfitters Local 699 go on strike

A member of the local floor coverings union pickets Wednesday, along with members of the Sprinkler Fitters Union Local 699.-DEAN J. KOEPFLER/THE NEWS TRIBUNE

From Gangbox "SEATTLE SPRINKLER FITTERS LOCAL 699 GOES ON STRIKE - contractors will ask other trades to work behind their picketline next week" (7/3/08)
“We’ve gotten as many phone calls from other trades supporting us, telling us they’re right behind us and they’re going to stick with us as long as it takes, so that’s what’s going to make this go sooner,” Collins said. “The contractors want us to go backward as far as our contracts go, and we’re not accepting that. With inflation going on the way it’s gone in the past few years, we’re way behind the eight ball.”

The sprinkler fitters earn about $24 to $30 an hour, and apprentices start out at less than half of those wages. That wage doesn’t include holiday, vacation or sick pay. Apprenticeships last five years, and apprentices receive health benefits in their third year, Collins said.

Mike Dahl, union business manager, said a big issue was the wages of apprentices.

“We’re looking to have not a great standard of living but just that they can afford to live,” he said. “We don’t like the economic impact on the economy here of what we’re doing. We hope this settles very soon.”
SocialistWorker.org adds in "Strike shuts down Seattle building sites"(7/4/08):

Workers in the rain on the picket lineThe strikers know what they are up against. Sam Bond, a member of Local 699 for nine years, said in an interview, "We have got to keep up with what's going in the world. As prices go up, we have to stay up on it, so we can afford the lifestyle we want to live. This strike is really important for us, and for future generations of sprinkler fitters."

Ironworkers, electricians, laborers, operating engineers, as well as delivery drivers like UPS workers are just some of the union workers who have refused to cross the picket lines.

At the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Wash., the strike has shut down completely nine huge tower cranes, with upwards of 800 workers getting an unexpected extra long holiday weekend.

The union is reporting that not a single member has crossed the picket line so far. A unanimous strike authorization vote and the "last, best, and final" offer from the employers' organization, the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA), was voted down 219 to 14.

It's been nearly two years since a major construction workers strike hit the Seattle area. In August 2006, concrete workers who were members of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 302 paralyzed most of the industry for a month. Those workers won a contract that included pay raises of $3.95 an hour over three years and, crucially, allowed them to honor strike picket lines held by other union trades.

The importance of that strike victory is now magnified. The basic labor idea of "an injury to one is an injury to all" has been highlighted by the solidarity of all the building trade workers refusing to cross the sprinkler fitters' picket line.

As one Local 699 striker put it, "The support we're getting is unbelievable. To be able to have all the trades honor the picket line also helps them out more when their contract times come up."

Heads high brothers, hope you get the $14 over 3 and the better apprentice package, to those that do not know the $14 is cumulative of all health, welfare, pension, etc., meaning it doesn't go into the pocket, the majority usually gets invested in other necessities.

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