Two Missoula unions walked away from negotiating tables recently with one thing in common: satisfaction with their new contracts.
“It’s fair and a good agreement,” said Dennis Daneke of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters. “I credit our contractors for sitting down and doing business with us in a fair and open way.”
Daneke was pleased that contractors will continue to provide health insurance, even as prices skyrocket.
“They came to the plate, ponied up, and helped us out,” said Daneke.
Members of Local #28 in Missoula and Kalispell ratified the contract with 89 percent voting in favor of the new agreement, which will affect 27 employers and almost 300 skilled-trade workers. The contract includes a 7.2 percent wage and benefit increase over two years, which will bring carpenter wages up to $18.70 per hour and millwright wages up to $20.30. Both will receive benefits that work out to $6.80 per hour, as well.
“Everybody always wants more money,” said Daneke. “But I think it’s a fair market wage.”
Daneke says he would still like to see better wages and benefits for unrepresented carpenters.
“All they have to do is come down here and sign up,” he said. “Every worker has a right to [join] a union.”
United Healthcare Workers Local #427 also put the pen to a contract with Hillside Health Care Center and Hillside Place in Missoula after a mere two days of talks.
“They were quick negotiations,” said Union President Kari Hoffman. “We went to the table, on both sides, with open minds and were able to compromise.”
Some highlights of the new health care contract are increases in starting pay, an additional two sick days, near-cost purchasing at the company pharmacy and a wage increase of between 4 and 7 percent.
“Negotiations went surprisingly well considering that for years the company fought us every step of the way,” said Trena Bailey, a union committee member. “We stood our ground in the past, and that seems to have paid off.”