Over 300 Seattle area concrete delivery drivers and support staff returned to work on April 11 without a new contract in hand, an unconditional end to a strike that lasted nearly five months.

The strike began in King County last November and broadened in scope in December, impacting public megaprojects and private projects across the region. Negotiations between the drivers, part of Teamsters Local 174, and the concrete companies have produced no movement and the ongoing strike and lack of concrete work forced hundreds of layoffs in the building trades around the region. 

The Washington State Dept. of Transportation says about 2,300 cu yd of planned pours have been missed since their projects were first impacted by the strike on Dec. 3, 2021. The agency's contractors have laid off over 130 employees because of the delays. 

Sound Transit, which is expanding light rail throughout the region, has missed more than 4,300 deliveries, and forced contractors working for the agency to lay off approximately 200 workers.

"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," says Rick Hicks, Teamsters Local 174 secretary-treasurer. "Our members love our community and are returning to work for the people of Seattle."

Hicks says they hope that the unconditional return to work will encourage the companies to "stop stonewalling negotiations."

Peter Rogoff, Sound Transit CEO, welcomes the workers' return. "We thank the Teamsters for this action, and we urge the parties to work collaboratively on a long-term agreement that avoids risks of further disruptions," he says. "With months of backlogged concrete deliveries across the region, we all must now work together to dig ourselves out of a deep hole."

With a backlog that has impacted major projects such as emergency repairs on the West Seattle Bridge and the expansion of the Washington State Convention Center, as well as numerous private projects, it will take plenty of time to catch back up. 

"While we cannot erase these delays, we will work to minimize their impact to the greatest degree possible and get these transformative projects open for service to our residents," says Ron Lewis, Sound Transit executive director of design, engineering and construction management.

The West Seattle Bridge project was in danger of an indefinite delay without concrete delivery in February, but Teamsters Local 174 agreed to restart delivery to the project in March and trucks started arriving on site in early April.

Local 174 went on strike with 34 workers at Gary Merlino Construction but that soon expanded to include Stoneway Concrete, Cadman, CalPortland/Glacier, Salmon Bay Sand and Gravel and Lehigh Cement. The workers were all local members and were on strike to protest the companies' "refusal to bargain in good faith" after a contract expired on July 31.

Gery Merlino Construction did not respond to requests for comment.

Founded in 1909, Teamsters Local 174 represents 8,600 workers in the Seattle area.