5:44 PM: There could be a partial break in the 3-month-old strike by more than 300 concrete-truck drivers against four local companies, which has left worksites including the West Seattle Bridge repair project waiting for concrete. According to an update on the Teamsters Local 174 website, the drivers are offering to return to work at three of the companies as of tomorrow – Cadman Seattle, Lehigh Cement, and Salmon Bay Sand & Gravel. The update says in part:
… This decision will allow some concrete to flow to critical projects in and around Seattle, with a dedicated and professional Teamster workforce operating equipment they know well, including the West Seattle Bridge, Sound Transit, the Convention Center, and the Hwy 520 Bridge. Negotiations for a new contract will continue with each Employer individually until contracts are reached. This includes the three companies whose workers have offered to return to the job. …
The update includes the letter the union says it’s sent to the three companies, which says in part:
… After much consideration, and on behalf of the bargaining unit we represent and who you employ, which is currently engaged in an unfair labor practice strike against your company, the Union hereby accepts your March 4, 2022, offer to permit our members to return to work “at any time” for the Seattle Location. We designate the beginning of the workday on Tuesday, March 15, 2022, as the time when our members will return to work. To maximize efficiency, please promptly inform our members who are employed by you regarding their work assignments on that day. …
The company not included in the offer is Gary Merlino Construction, which the union says made “a regressive offer” last week. We’ll be seeking reaction from city reps among others; the four concrete suppliers involved in the strike have been posting statements here, but there’s nothing about today’s Teamsters announcement yet. It’s been three weeks since the February 20th date by which the city said concrete needed to be available to keep the bridge repairs on schedule.
6:09 PM: You might recall that the February 20th “need concrete by” date was announced by Mayor Bruce Harrell at a joint media briefing with King County Executive Dow Constantine in White Center, as Constantine announced a plan for the county to seek alternate suppliers. The county executive (a West Seattle resident) is first in with a reaction to the Teamsters’ offer:
For more than 100 days most of the region’s construction has stopped as a result of a dispute between several sand and gravel companies and their employees, who are represented by Teamsters Local 174. Thousands of construction jobs have been impacted, tens of millions of dollars lost, and critical infrastructure projects delayed including wastewater, transit, bridges, and housing.
Today’s offer by Teamsters to return to work at three locations could help critical projects get back on track while negotiations for a three-year contract continue. I appreciate the Teamsters members and leaders who are continuing to bargain in good faith to get a fair contract. Now it’s time for the sand and gravel companies to do the same and return to the negotiating table, secure a fair and long-term contract, and get our region moving again.
ADDED TUESDAY MORNING: We asked SDOT for comment last night and here’s what spokesperson Ethan Bergerson tells us this morning: “The City’s contract language for public works projects like the West Seattle Bridge gives contractors autonomy to select concrete suppliers. Kraemer North America has flexibility to get concrete from any supplier, and is currently reaching out to all three companies listed in the Teamsters press release.”