Port contract talks wrapped up quickly
June 12, 2008 · Updated 10:08 AM
"Relations between Port of Bremerton employees and those who manage them are apparently relaxed and harmonious.After less than eight hours of bargaining, a negotiator with Service Employees International Union Local 6, the organization that represents Port of Bremerton employees, signed a three-year contract last month with the Port of Bremerton Commissioners that guaranteed port employees raises and more bountiful holiday pay. Everyone at the bargaining table was quite comfortable with one another, said port commission president Mary Ann Huntington, who sat in on the contract negotiations.The first thing the union representative told us was that the port crew is pleased with the current working conditions at the port, she said.With no complaints about labor practices, economics controlled the bargaining table more than any other topic, said Port Executive director Dick Brandenburg.And not for long, he said. I think, altogether, negotiations took about six and a half hours.The union negotiator working on the case didn't return phone calls this week.Nevertheless, in the end, the port agreed to give all port employees a 3 percent cost-of-living raise this year and, in the second and third years, at least another 3 percent raise, at most - a 5 percent wage hike.Brandenburg said that, after the first year, raises will be based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) report for the Seattle-Tacoma-Bremerton area to determine a marketable wage.The union contract also ensures employees, called to work on a holiday such as Thanksgiving, will be paid two and a half times his or her normal hourly wage, said Brandenburg.By the time the port commissioners publicly accepted the three-year contract at an Aug. 8 commissioners' meeting, port employees had worked since May 17 without one. But port executive director Dick Brandenburg said the signed contract covered employees retroactively beginning May 18. "