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Union contract deadline passes

June 1, 1999At least four union contracts for construction workers were settled before Monday’s expiration date, but several others were outstanding across Wisconsin. Local 139 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, which represents unionized employees statewide, appears to have made the most progress in contract talks. The union reached a settlement for state heavy and highway workers for five years.Wages will increase $1.25 for the first two years and $1.30 for the last three years, said Dale A. Miller, business manager of the local. The current wage under which the most Local 139 members work is $23.27 and the increase includes 20 cents for health benefits, 25 cents for pension dues and 5 cents each for education and bonding. Local 139 also agreed to a building contract with workers outside the six-county Milwaukee area of Dodge, Jefferson, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha counties. The agreement, which covers three years, will result in wage increases of $1.25 the first year and $1.30 the other years, Miler said. The base rate for most of the covered workers is now $22.82 and the building agreement will affect 1,500 workers. In addition, the Area 1 builder agreement, a five-year document for 300 people in the six-county Mil-waukee area, will be settled after one remaining issue of contract language is completed, Miller said. Some agreements for pit and quarry workers are also outstanding. “Every one of the associations we dealt with, we came out of there with a fair contract for both sides,” Miller said. “We had good negotiations and I give the associations credit.”

Building laborers

A settlement was also reached before the deadline with the greater Milwaukee building laborers for a five-year agreement worth $5.05, according to Ed J. Hayden, executive vice president of the Allied Construc-tion Employers’ Association. The contract calls for a wage increase of $1.05 the first year and $1 for each of the next four years.

Sheet metal workers

A five-year agreement was also reached with sheet metal workers. Members will be able to take advantage of a 401(k) plan, said Ted R. Kuczynski, president of Sheet Metal Workers Union Local 18. Another person who has seen the agreement said that the agreement also includes a 4 percent wage in-crease. The total contract amount for each of the 1,500 members affected will reportedly be $33.74 per hour starting today. The contract covers members of Local 18 in Dodge, Jefferson, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha counties. Janesville area sheet metal employees, many of whom are employed by General Motors Corp., also voted to accept a three-year agreement.

Plumbers and steamfitters

Plumbers Local 75 and Steamfit-ters Local 601 were the first to announce new contracts. The five-year agreements will impact more than 250 plumbing and mechanical contractors in Green, Jefferson, Lafayette, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Rock, Washington and Waukesha county who employ 2,600 plumbers and fitters. Members will receive wage package increases of $6.35 over the contract period and will also be able to take advantage of strengthened safety and training programs and work-rule modifications, according to the Plumbing and Mechanical Contractors Association of Milwaukee and South-eastern Wisconsin.

Still working

Other Milwaukee metropolitan area trades that were working on agreements at last report included bricklayers, carpenters, cement finishers and painters. Elsewhere in the state, masonry workers were expected to have been finished late on Friday and discussions for the carpenters were expected to to start this week, said F. William Harvat, vice president of business development for Miron Construction Co. Inc. in Menasha. Harvat is involved with contract talks outside the Milwaukee area.“Everything else has pieces outstanding,” Hayden said Friday of the greater Milwaukee contracts. “I expect that some of them will go down to the wire.”    

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