Bureau Of National Affairs







Laborers, PLCA Reach Agreement On Five-Year National Pipeline Contract



By Brian Lockett

Thursday, February 3, 2000



After nearly a year of negotiations, the Laborers' International Union of North America and the Pipe Line Contractors Association have reached tentative agreement on a new five-year national pact covering about 10,000 pipeline laborers in the contiguous 48 states, according to union and association reports.


The agreement was signed Jan. 27 by the contractors association, but is still under review by the Laborers. It would provide wage and benefit increases in the first two years ranging from 60 cents to $1.25 per hour over rates set in local heavy and highway agreements, according to J. Patrick Tielborg, PLCA's managing director and general counsel.


In the 12 so-called heavy-highway states named in the agreement, wage and benefit rates for LIUNA -represented workers on pipeline construction will be the same as rates established under local agreements covering heavy-highway projects, he said.


Heavy-highway states designated under the agreement are Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Wyoming, western and southwest Washington, and parts of New York, Iowa, and Nevada.


Tielborg said negotiations were prolonged not because of acrimony but by the intricacies of wage and benefit rates in some parts of the country. PLCA represented 57 pipeline construction firms in the negotiations. Alaska and Hawaii are not covered by the national agreement.


LIUNA officials declined comment on the agreement.


Agreement Has Two Effective Dates


The agreement would be retroactive to May 1, 1999, and would expire May 1, 2004. Either party would have the right to terminate in either of the last two years. The first wage increase would take effect Jan. 1, 2000, and would remain in effect for 16 months until May 1, 2001, the end of the contract's second year.


Increases in the non-heavy and highway states during the first two years of the contract, which range from 60 cents to $1.25 per hour, could be allocated between wages and benefits in any manner, but cannot exceed 60 cents in the first contract period, Jan. 1, 2000-May 1, 2001. For example, in the case of a state or region for which a $1.25 increase was approved, 60 cents could be taken in the first contract period, followed by 65 cents in the second period--beginning May 2, 2001--or any other allocation as long as no more than 60 cents is taken in the first year. In the case of a state or region in which a 60-cent increase was approved, all 60 cents could be taken in the first period followed by no increase in the second period, or any breakdown of the increase agreeable to the parties.


There would be a wage freeze in the fourth year except in the heavy-highway states. The parties agreed, however, on a maintenance of benefits increase to be capped at 50 cents per hour in the fourth year. The contract calls for a wage reopener in the non-heavy highway states in the fifth year.


New hiring language would give employers the right to hire directly 50 percent of the first 30 employees and 40 percent after the 30th employee with the 31st employee being dispatched by the union. Under the expired agreement, 50 percent applied to the first 24 employees and 30 percent after the 24th employee.


Employer hourly contributions to the Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust would be made uniform at 10 cents per hour worked. Under the previous agreement, there was no uniform rate.


New premium classifications would be established for hazardous waste, with training certification required, and form builder/concrete finisher. Both classifications receive a $1 per hour premium.


Reduced Rates on Smaller Pipe


Addenda revising rates for those who work on smaller diameter pipe were approved by the parties. For 16-inch diameter pipe and smaller, the wage-benefit package would be $12 per hour with a $1 minimum and $2 maximum benefit reduction. Under the expired agreement, the hourly rate was $9.15 with a $1.50 benefit reduction.


Job stewards would receive a 50-cent hourly premium under the new agreement. Under the expired contract, stewards earned $9.50 plus benefits.


There are wage reopeners in the fourth and fifth years of the agreement under the 16-inch addendum.


For 12-inch diameter pipe and smaller, the $3 per hour reduction from the large-diameter rate would remain unchanged.


The addenda increases would be effective for all projects bid after Jan. 1, 2000. Indiana, Michigan and Montana are excluded from both addenda.


Copyright © 2000 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc., Washington D.C.

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