by Elizabeth Turnbull
Update: Striking Concrete Drivers and Workers Return to Work, Negotiations Continue
The 300-plus ready-mix concrete and dump drivers and support staff on strike since last December offered an unconditional return to work Monday, April 11, though negotiations for a new contract will continue, according to a Friday, April 8, announcement from Teamsters Local 174.
The return to work was offered as a way to break a logjam of construction projects across the Puget Sound region including the West Seattle Bridge repair project and the Federal Way Link light rail extension project.
“For months, the concrete companies have used their control over Seattle’s concrete industry to drag out negotiations, and it has been devastating for our community and for our sisters and brothers in the Building Trades,” said Teamsters Local 174 secretary-treasurer, Rick Hicks.
Hicks said returning to work was a gracious offer by the union on behalf of the people of Seattle and that the companies should “start negotiating in good faith and stop stonewalling negotiations, as they have for months.” The Teamsters said they put forth nine different proposals that were rejected.
Last updated on 04/11/2022.
On Tuesday, April 5, truck drivers began to once again deliver loads of concrete to the West Seattle Bridge after repairs were paused due to a union strike.
Since late last year, concrete workers and members of the Teamsters Union began a strike in King County to advocate for a contract that would meet their goals regarding pensions and medical coverage.
Tuesday’s delivery was a partial pause in a continuing bargaining effort. A statement released by Mayor Bruce Harrell, on Tuesday, lauded the Teamsters for “taking the extraordinary, good-faith action of returning to work.”
While the concrete deliveries have resumed to the West Seattle Bridge, one worker and union member who was on-site at the West Seattle Bridge Thursday morning, says the union’s position has not changed.
“We made a decision that a couple of locations needed to be opened back up,” said Todd Parker, a driver for Cadman Concrete and a member of the union bargaining committee. “The reasoning behind the strike has not changed. We are still in the same position we were in when the strike started.”
Due to current economic troubles, a rising inflation rate, and worries about the future, the union workers have been fighting for some sort of insurance about their own futures and welfare.
It is not uncommon for workers in this profession to retire with health issues and the union has been working to ensure a post-retirement health care package for their workers.
While workers at Cadman Seattle and Salmon Bay Sand & Gravel have gone back to work, Parker said that the remaining 200 or so members are still on strike.
The strike has affected more sites than just the West Seattle Bridge including the Federal Way Link light rail extension and projects in South Seattle. Parker said the workers made the decision on Monday to work on some projects that seemed to be of particular importance.
“We needed to do it to get some of these projects back on track. I know the people in West Seattle were in desperate need to get that bridge repaired,” Parker said. “We also had other projects, you know, in the region that were really important to get going. And there was also a lot of people laid off, which everybody knows, because of the strike. So it was a decision that was made to help everybody out as much as possible.”
Elizabeth Turnbull is a journalist with reporting experience in the U.S. and the Middle East. She has a passion for covering human-centric issues and doing so consistently.
📸 Featured Image: Teamsters took action in downtown Seattle at the headquarters of the Washington chapter of the Associated General Contractors (AGC) industry association in January 2022. Photo courtesy of Teamsters Local 174.
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