Tacoma line workers approve union contract

79 percent of IBEW 483 members voted yes

Staff writerMay 1, 2014 

Workers who maintain high-voltage power lines approved a contract with the city of Tacoma last week after negotiators reached a tentative agreement last month.

The city and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 483 Tacoma Power union had been at loggerheads on a contract to replace one that expired at the end of March. The two groups even entered into several rounds of mediation. During mediation, both agreed to a one-month contract extension.

The 389-member union includes some workers from other city departments. Its members voted 79 percent in favor of the latest contract offer last week.

While 97 percent of IBEW 483 members rejected a February contract offer, the latest contract version had been modified enough to make a section on management rights agreeable to most union members, said Alice Phillips, business manager for IBEW 483.

The union was prepared to go on strike if the impasse continued.

The city compared salaries of similar positions in surrounding counties to those of city line workers during wage negotiations, Phillips said. About 60 of those employees will not receive cost of living increases because the market study shows they are already overpaid. However, those employees will get a $500 bonus.

“I thought that was respectable of management,” Phillips said recently. “They tried to soften the blow and I appreciate that.”

The Tacoma Public Utilities board will vote on the contract soon, after which the Tacoma City Council will vote on it.

Kate Martin: 253-597-8542

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