A multi-month strike by 330 workers represented by Teamsters union Local 174 working for six companies in Washington state's Puget Sound region has slowed four major Sound Transit rail construction projects and disrupted others.
On Jan. 10, the strike extended to the Port of Everett's 55,000-ton bulk storage cement facility for a three-hour stretch. Striking concrete mixer drivers and plant workers employed by Lehigh Northwest Cement Company shut down all operations at the port, the second-largest export customs district in Washington state.
Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union working at the port honored the Teamster picket lines.
"Sound Transit has joined with Washington State Dept. of Transportation, King County and the City of Seattle in calling for the parties to return to the negotiating table immediately with the help of an unbiased mediator so that a mutually acceptable agreement can be reached that moves our projects and our region forward," says John Gallagher, public information officer for Sound Transit.
The Teamsters local went on strike on Nov. 19 with 34 workers at Gary Merlino Construction, but that has expanded to include Stoneway Concrete, Cadman, CalPortland/Glacier, Salmon Bay Sand and Gravel and Lehigh Cement. The workers struck to protest the companies' "refusal to bargain in good faith" after a contract expiration on July 31, 2021.
Jamie Fleming, Local 174 director of communications and research, says that along with Sound Transit projects, the Microsoft Redmond. Wash., campus modernization and other smaller projects have all been impacted and will continue to be so with no concrete flowing in the region.
Sound Transit says four light rail projects in King County—the Lynnwood, Federal Way, East Link and downtown Redmond extensions—have been shorted about 8,900 cu yd of concrete over the past month, equaling about 890 truckloads. The work impacted includes guideways, retaining walls, stations and garages.
Gallagher says contractors on the jobs have laid off more than 40 workers because of lack of work.
"The arrogance from the employers in this case is absolutely astounding and cannot be allowed to continue unchecked," Rick Hicks, Teamsters Local 174 secretary-treasurer, said in a statement, adding that the union has not heard anything for nearly six weeks from Charlie Oliver of Gary Merlino Construction, who is the employers' spokesperson.
"We have major construction projects halted, affordable housing projects losing money they cannot afford to lose and laid-off families growing more desperate by the day," the statement said.
Gery Merlino Construction did not respond to ENR's request for comment, nor did AGC Washington.
Founded in 1909, Teamsters Local 174 represents 8,600 workers in the Seattle area.
Hicks said the union remains willing to negotiate in good faith and asks for a fair deal that "treats our members with the same respect already shown to other construction trades when negotiating their contracts earlier this year."