Operating engineers at four concrete plants in King County, Wash. ended their 25-day strike Aug. 25 when they ratified a contract providing for a $3.95-an-hour raise over three years and the right to strike in sympathy with other unions.
Members of International Union of Operating Engineers Local 302 walked out July 31 when the local’s 3-year contract expired. The union was asking for an $8-per-hour raise over three years and the right-to-strike language. Contracts affecting about 7,500 construction workers in King County expire next summer, including operating engineers, making the strike language a critical issue.
Fallout from the strike continues to ripple through King County, in the form of liquidated damage claims and schedule delays. A spokesman for Sound Transit, the agency in charge of Seattle’s $1.4-billion light rail project, says contractors will be responsible for delays and cost overruns on a $74.6-million stub tunnel and retrofit and a $114-million rail section through south Seattle.
Kathleen Garrity, executive director of Associated Builders and Contractors of Western Washington, questions the value of the light rail project’s labor agreement. Allan Darr, business manager with Local 302, says his local is outside the agreement. “People who deliver supplies and leave the materials at the site don’t come under prevailing wage laws and cannot be considered part of a PLA,” he says.