Construction layoffs ‘in the thousands, more to come’ as concrete workers’ strike nears third month

Picket lines at major construction sites in the Puget Sound area have been in effect since November. Thousands of construction workers have been laid off as a result, and more are likely to follow as negotiations with concrete suppliers remain stalled.

Jaime Fleming, a spokesperson for Teamsters 174, representing 330 workers employed by various local concrete suppliers, confirmed to MyNorthwest that “employers are still filibustering and refusing any contact or conversation with us.”

Fleming also noted that “thousands” of construction workers were fired during the strike “and more to come.” Striking Teamsters 174 members lost their health coverage on February 1.

Speaking to Sound Transit’s board on January 27, the agency’s chief executive, Peter Rogoff, detailed the number of layoffs that have affected major construction sites linked to the transit agency.

Concrete workers’ strike crippled major construction projects in King County

“The strike is not only having a very troubling impact on our light rail extension to Lynnwood, Redmond’s Downtown Eastside and Federal Way, but also on our construction workforce. To date, our contractors have had to lay off over 174 workers from our construction sites, due to lack of concrete and associated work delays, with additional layoffs threatening 120 more workers by the end of this month,” said Rogoff. .

“Since early December, or after the strike began, we have missed delivery of over 14,000 cubic yards of concrete. That equates to 1,400 truckloads or, to give you an idea, a line of concrete trucks stretching over nine miles in length.

At the time of the meeting, Rogoff was optimistic that the federal negotiator brought in to facilitate contract negotiations would resolve the strike. The Teamsters describe federal mediation as an “absolute failure,” according to correspondence with the labor group in late January.

Concrete suppliers affected by the strike include Gary Merlino Construction, Stoneway Concrete, Cadman, Glacier/CalPortland, Salmon Bay Sand & Gravel and Lehigh Cement.

Gary Merlino Construction workers walked off the job during an unfair labor practices strike on November 19. Other suppliers have been affected by similar strikes since December 3.

The construction sites delayed by the strike go beyond the extension of the tramway. Eleven affordable housing projects with more than 1,400 apartments are affected, in addition to the multi-billion dollar expansion of Microsoft’s headquarters. The Washington State Department of Transportation said the strike resulted in contractor layoffs and delays to its projects in King County, including the 520 Bridge project and the 405 expansion between Renton and Bellevue.

Over the summer, Teamsters 174 entered into a separate AGC construction agreement on behalf of construction industry drivers. Fleming confirmed that the terms of that agreement were similar to those offered at Gary Merlino Construction, and the decision to strike involved a proposed medical plan for retirees, equivalent to demanding an additional $0.46 an hour, according to Fleming.

“Companies have provided the Teamsters with the best package we’ve ever offered, which includes a 17.6% salary increase over three years, improved pension contributions, excellent medical benefits and generous medical insurance for retirees who are rarely found in other employment contracts,” a statement on behalf of employers from January read.

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