Workers at construction companies in Washington state have voted in a ballot initiative that will provide workers with better pay, safer working conditions and the ability to unionize if a company wants to.
The initiative, which would be the first in the state, would not affect workers in construction at the national level.
The unionized construction companies are controlled by the United Auto Workers union, which has been at odds with the construction companies union for decades.
The new ballot measure will take effect next month, after an initial three-month extension, said Jeff Karpowitz, an attorney for the union.
The measure, which was supported by the Washington State AFL-CIO, is not aimed at organizing unions in Washington, which the union has been seeking to do.
But it could make it easier for workers to unionizing, Karpitz said.
“We see this as a way to address the union-busting in Washington State and make the union members more powerful,” Karpovitz said, noting that unionizing is necessary in a number of industries where the unions are weak.
The vote, which took place Sunday in the city of Bellingham, comes after several months of negotiations between the union and the construction company that owns the two construction companies.
In February, the workers in Bellingham voted overwhelmingly to reject a union representation deal, which they believed would make it harder for them to unionise.
The workers in Seattle, which had been the first city in the country to pass a union ballot initiative, are still negotiating with the company that built the $1.6 billion facility.
Workers in Seattle are represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, but they are not represented by a union.
“The workers in the Bellingham and Seattle buildings are going to get the best deal possible,” Karsowitz said.
The ballot measure would increase the minimum wage and allow workers to collectively bargain for higher wages.
Workers would also be able to join a union if they work for more than one employer.
The minimum wage for construction workers would increase from $9.55 an hour to $11.50 an hour.
The wage would also rise if the employee is paid $100 an hour or more.
The two construction workers in Washington would also have the right to form a union and to bargain collectively for better working conditions.
“It’s about bringing real change to Washington’s economy, not a one-size-fits-all union system,” said Peter Johnson, executive director of the National Construction Workers Association.
The construction workers have been in the union since 1991.
The Seattle and Bellingham construction companies, which have operated since the late 1980s, are owned by two different companies: a company called Pacific Construction and a company run by the same owner, Guggenheim Energy.
The company has been in talks with the union about collective bargaining, Johnson said.
He said that the union is working to increase the wages and benefits of the construction workers to make the situation better for all construction workers.
“This is really about making sure that workers have a voice and a fair deal,” Johnson said, adding that the construction unions have been negotiating a contract for nearly a decade.