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Friday, June 1, 2007

Carpenters strike, area construction on hold

Union drywallers went on strike at construction sites across Portland and Vancouver this morning. Currently, union drywallers make $40.82/hr including benefits. The union wants a raise of 6 percent a year over the two-year term of the proposed contract. The association offered between 3 and 4 percent raises, said Eric Franklin, spokesman with the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters.

Pickets went up as early as 3 am at Portland's South Waterfront, Macy's downtown Portland store and Clackamas Town Center, Franklin said. Members also walked off jobs in Vancouver, Salem and Eugene, said Jerry Auvil, a staff member for the union in Portland. Auvil said union members walked off more than two dozen major construction sites and "various small ones."

The carpenters union represents about 6,000 workers in Oregon and Southwest Washington, including 1,300 "interior-systems carpenters" whose labor contract expired at midnight. The union rejected a final contract offer this week from the Associated Wall & Ceiling Contractors of Oregon and Southwest Washington Inc..

The association did not return calls seeking comment last night.

"This is something that I think Portland will not just notice as a hiccup," Auvil had said on Thursday. "We didn't want to go out. But there's such a difference between what's fair and what the offer is."