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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Electricians in Puget Sound region approve contract offer, end strike

By Jerry Cornfield Washington State Standard

More than 1,000 striking electricians in the Puget Sound region are back on job sites Thursday after voting overwhelmingly to approve a new three-year contract.

“The strike is over, and it is time to return to work,” lead negotiator Megan Kirby wrote to members Wednesday following the ratification vote. “It has been a long journey. I cannot express how proud I am of this unit with their commitment and solidarity.”

IBEW 46 limited energy electricians went on strike April 11 as they sought a new multiyear deal with the National Electrical Contractors Association. The strike disrupted construction at major job sites, including Microsoft and Amazon office buildings.

The agreement includes a $12.50 per hour raise over three years beginning with a $1.50-an-hour hike on Aug. 2. Future increases are planned in February and August of the next two years, with a final pay boost of $2.75 an hour on Feb. 1, 2027, according to information Kirby posted on social media.

The deal also includes and a memorandum of understanding to continue discussing paid time off, a core demand of the workers. The contract offer was approved by 85% of voting members, according to Kirby’s letter.

“We are pleased that both parties were able to come together and allow the collective bargaining process to function as intended,” said Jameson Schwetz, executive director of the Puget Sound chapter of NECA, in a statement. “This agreement is a testament to our dedication to fostering a collaborative and respectful working environment.”

The electricians pressed the National Electrical Contractors Association for paid holidays, higher pay and increased safety measures like ensuring radios are available to workers on all job sites.

Approval comes a week after workers overwhelmingly rejected an offer from the contractors that included an hourly wage increase of $12.75 over three years, the highest ever presented in the union’s history. That offer would’ve taken away their ability to strike.

The agreement approved Wednesday covers limited energy, or low voltage, electricians who are part of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 46. Limited energy electricians install and repair systems like fire alarms, building security systems and phone and fiber optic lines.

The full membership of the limited energy unit, which totals around 1,025, had not gone on strike by themselves since 1945.