PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Following three days of striking, the City of Portland and Portland City Laborers announced they tentatively reached a new deal, ending the strike.
In a joint statement released at 12:30 a.m., the groups said12 hours of mediation on Saturday led to a new bargaining agreement. They also said that effective at 1 a.m. Sunday, the Portland City Laborers strike was over.
Read: City of Portland statement
“It’s a clear demonstration that when you band together, when you demonstrate solidarity, you’re able to get what you need,” said Oregon Laborers Local 483 Field Representative James O’Laughlen.
O’Laughlen said progess in negotiations was slow, but within 3 days of striking a deal was reached.
“It speaks to the fact that when there is a good faith process, and both parties are committed to getting an agreement, you can achieve it with relative ease. It’s just sad that it takes such pressure being put on city decision makers to reach that point,” he said.
He told KOIN 6 News the proposed contract includes an average wage increase of nearly 11% across the board for the first year, with a 5% cost-of-living adjustment in the second year along with improvements to working conditions and equity matters.
The deal was drafted, O’Laughlen said, and is now waiting to be ratified. Voting started Sunday and would probably take a few days or a week to approve, he said.
The groups concluded the statement with a hopeful look toward a future of working together.
“We look forward to reuniting with our colleagues and celebrating the ability to continue serving this community, together,” the statement read.
“Being on strike is a lot more work than going to work. And these people don’t have easy day jobs. So I’m just proud — proud that we were able to band together, stay together and get a contract that met our members’ needs,” O’Laughlen said.
The strike, which began Thursday, came following nearly 10 months of negotiations between the City of Portland and Laborers Local 483.
The city said that in that time, they met with Laborers 19 times, but to no avail. Both parties made final offers in late December 2022, but the union rejected the city’s proposal. According to the city, they were offering a 12% raise to the workers, but the union said they took concessions during the pandemic.
To celebrate their new deal, workers and their families rallied Sunday night at the Wastewater Treatment Plant off North Columbia Boulevard.
O’Laughlen said the honks and supportive words from the public have only made workers more eager to get back to serving the people of Portland.
“Our people are public servants,” he told KOIN 6 News. “We take real pride in creating an environment where people can live happy lives, and to see that honored by the people of Portland, even when the institutions of the city struggle to do so, t’s really meaningful stuff.”
KOIN 6 News reached out to city leaders for an interview but they declined. Officials said they are focused on providing employees with the support needed to get back to regular operations.