CONCRETE STRIKE: Drivers say they’ll return to work at 3 companies without a settlement ‘to allow concrete to flow to critical projects’ including West Seattle Bridge

(Image from SDOT bridge-top webcam)

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.”

44 Replies to "CONCRETE STRIKE: Drivers say they'll return to work at 3 companies without a settlement 'to allow concrete to flow to critical projects' including West Seattle Bridge"

  • Mj March 14, 2022 (5:54 pm)

    One would hope the WSB is the highest priority project needing concrete!  

  • MrBell March 14, 2022 (5:55 pm)

    Great news!        

  • Gatewood Resident March 14, 2022 (6:47 pm)

    Maybe they’re spooked about a looming recession too

  • CarDriver March 14, 2022 (6:49 pm)

    BIG thank you to our union brothers (and sisters). More proof we need to let them know we’re behind them 100% Now let’s see if the companies step up to the plate and accept their offer. Balls in your court cement companies. We are watching.

    • Boop March 14, 2022 (9:57 pm)

      Thank you Teamsters!  I hope you get the great contract that you deserve!  

    • Gatewood resident March 14, 2022 (11:26 pm)

      Savor it while it lasts. Eventually, software is going to drive even these gigantic concrete rigs

  • U. Crane March 14, 2022 (8:07 pm)

    I like Merlino’s style.  “You’ll accept less and like it!”

    • rocket March 14, 2022 (11:49 pm)


  • Zach March 14, 2022 (8:15 pm)

    To be clear…. The only way this helps the west Seattle bridge is if Kraemer planned to use Cadman or Salmon Bay for Ready Mix supply. I work on the convention center addition and this does WILL NOT help that project get done like the teamster say, since neither of these 2 suppliers are working on that project.secondly-the bridge PR a few weeks back, said they needed a special SCC mix, so switching from one ready mix company to another will take time to get approved.Anyone who knows ready mix in Seattle, knows salmon bay is a long shot for ready mix supply, so now there’s a 1 in 3 chance that Cadman is the approved supplier, since CalPortland and Stoneway are still in the doghouse from local 174 (coincidentally the 2 suppliers who are still in the doghouse, are also the biggest suppliers of ready mix in the city, so read between the lines) ….

    • WSB March 14, 2022 (8:58 pm)

      That’s one of the questions I have out to SDOT, which company it/its contractor had been expecting to get concrete from.

      • Truth March 15, 2022 (1:52 am)

        Calportland is the sub.  Hopefully that can change.

  • David March 14, 2022 (8:19 pm)

    This has been terrible looking for the Teamsters.   They have a VALID right and reason to strike, that’s not the argument, my point is whoever is doing PR/marketing for them is terrible.  It’s FINE to strike some site(s) building new condos/apartments downtown or such.  But “emergency road repairs” like the West Seattle bridge?  Holding THAT up when it only requires a small (relative) amount of concrete was a DUMB move by the Teamsters.  They could have generated a LOT of good will by allow emergency fixes to proceed (because, you know, emergency fixes) and just strike on the NEW projects.  That’s PR 101 and I can’t believe they screwed up on this so much. Of course they have the “right” to strike, but blocking emergency road repairs just looks like petty behavior.

    • Truth March 14, 2022 (9:30 pm)

      It’s a DUMB move the companies are refusing to pay a proper salary. Why blame the strikers and not the companies that can end the strike by accepting their requests. 

      • David March 15, 2022 (8:23 am)

        The problem here is that you believe the way “negotiations” work is that one side makes demands and the other side HAS TO AGREE 100%.  That’s not how this works, that’s not how any of this works.  In ANY negotiation (for buying a car, a bill in Congress, etc) you propose what you WANT, the other side comes back with what they’re willing to give on, and you meet in the MIDDLE.  If you insist the other side has to give 100% and you MUST GET everything you want (no compromise) that’s NOT a negotiation.  That’s not “bargaining”.    If that’s their doing, their not good at their jobs.  You ASK for MORE than what you think you can get (120% of what you want) and negotiate down to say 80% of what you want.  That’s how it ALWAYS works.  You’re not SUPPOSED to get 100% of what you want, that would be NEAT, that would be COOL, but DEMANDING 100% or nothing is NOT negotiating.  They’re already offered big pay raises and benefits, etc. It’s just not “enough” for the Teamsters.  Now whether they take 90% of what they want, 80% or 50%, that’s up to the Teamsters, but if they insist on 100%, then they’re the ones holding this up, that’s not realist and NOT how bargaining works.

        • Derek March 15, 2022 (9:56 am)

          This is anti-union nonsense. Workers are the ones producing. Not CEOs and owners. Period. Pay them their worth or they strike. That simple.

    • Aaron March 14, 2022 (9:39 pm)

      Weird that you put the responsibility on the people who put their bodies and health on the line every day to do this work instead of the bosses.

      • Canton March 14, 2022 (10:36 pm)

        I believe David’s valid point does put the onus on the bosses of the strike, not the workers. The concrete workers are setting their valid labor concerns aside, for now, to get these projects going. 

    • Jon Wright March 14, 2022 (10:31 pm)

      Local 174 giving up their leverage sounds like a great negotiating tactic!

    • Deluxe March 15, 2022 (9:15 am)

      This is a great idea. Also, the more than 1,500 units of affordable housing that have been on hold in Seattle for months. The strike will delay affordable housing by months and cost Seattle taxpayers a significant amount once its over.  Seems like there is a way to both support labor and not negatively impact low income families and Seattle taxpayers broadly. 

  • Cementquestuion March 14, 2022 (9:20 pm)

    What’s the offer that is being rejected? Looking at the current wage table it’s $44+hr for cement truck drivers until 2024. Are the cement companies not paying the contract wages?

    • WSB March 14, 2022 (9:59 pm)

      If you look at the time stamp, Mike’s comprehensive “no ghost trucks” story was obviously researched and written before this broke late in the day (there’s one added line alluding to it toward the end, and it links to another reporter’s story). If the Teamster drivers go back to work, that wouldn’t be “ghost trucks.” – TR

      • nwpolitico March 15, 2022 (7:46 am)

        The Times article says Kraemer “currently has no delivery contract.” As such, the return to work could help the bridge if Kraemer quickly procures a such a contract with one of the three companies whose Teamster workers are returning. Sounds like it would have to be Cadman Seattle based on an above comment from someone in the know.

  • bolo March 14, 2022 (10:41 pm)

    I knew something was starting to change when I saw a shiny cement mixer truck pouring a foundation just off 42nd SW last week.

    • Andy March 15, 2022 (8:59 am)

      Ghost trucks have been pouring on a couple jobs just north of Hudson on 42nd.

  • Don March 14, 2022 (11:02 pm)

    West sea is getting it in the shorts on this.  Imagine if it was a runway at sea tac or some “real” emergency that everyone felt — would get resolved then !  

    • Jort March 15, 2022 (7:29 am)

      Thank you for helping to clarify, as I have said for years now, that the bridge closure is actually an inconvenience, and not an emergency. 

  • 22blades March 14, 2022 (11:55 pm)

    West Seattle Bridge Contractor will not use “ghost trucks”. Kramer North America, here are your stars. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

  • John Hanley March 15, 2022 (1:16 am)

    Write an article analyzing the cost of delayed construction versus the cost of increasing their wages. A strike that lasts three months means somebody lacks leadership and has even fewer negotiating skills.

    • Roms March 15, 2022 (7:24 am)

      There’s probably a lack of negotiating skills on all sides at that point, even third parties (federal mediator, etc.).

    • Jort March 15, 2022 (7:28 am)

      “WRITE AN ARTICLE …” Hey, how about you write an article? Then give it away for free while people tell you what to do, sounds cool.

      • WSB March 15, 2022 (9:44 am)

        We don’t mind suggestions – I just wish we had the reinforcements to convert more of them.

  • Adam March 15, 2022 (6:13 am)

    Ok where’s my crying laughing emoji……I guess the hostage taking didn’t work? I think we should pay scabs and ghost trucks for another month

  • Sparky March 15, 2022 (7:38 am)

    I’m trying to figure out why SDOT reconfigured the lanes at the five-way intersection in front of the Chelan Cafe, took out the left turn from eastbound Spokane street into Terminal 5, but didn’t allow both lanes coming up West Marginal to flow straight and then zipper merge after the light?  What are they thinking?  They are about 2 years late on the reconfiguration and they still failed. 

  • WSB March 15, 2022 (9:44 am)

    Added SDOT’s comment above.

  • Tomas March 15, 2022 (10:08 am)

    Look I’m happy that possibly the WS Bridge may finally reopen soon; but from the perspective of the striking workers this makes no sense.News outlets are finally covering the strike in detail because so many projects are grinding to a halt, the companies are getting more pressure to settle with their workers, this is the time for the workers to stay strong and use this new found political and public opinion pressure to get the contrats they are looking for.It’s not the time to partially come back to work to alleviate the pressure.  This weakens their position considerably and is a slap in the face to the guys striking for months now.

    • Jw March 15, 2022 (11:14 am)

      I think it shows that they’re tied to the community and want to work. It’s does more to foster a positive opinion of them when, especially if the city has kept the position that they’ll only deal with union workers. They’re not asking for anything unreasonable, from what I’ve seen the concrete companies are the bad actors in the negotiations.

  • Math Teacher March 15, 2022 (11:04 am)

    This is interesting: story makes it sound like Merlino is trying to bust the union, while the other companies would negotiate? As a proud union member, I’m quite willing to put up with the inconvenience of the bridge closure if that’s what it takes to support union rights. 

    • Adam March 15, 2022 (2:00 pm)

      I’d be ok with the inconvenience of workers not wanting to work being replaced by ones that do if it means the WHOLE of west Seattle doesn’t have to suffer over a fight for wages for a few employees. Many will lose more if the bridge isn’t fixed

  • CarDriver March 15, 2022 (2:30 pm)

    Adam.  Your comments lead me to believe you own a business that pay’s minimum wage with no benefits. And you expect your employees should be grateful you let them in to work.  

  • Lin March 15, 2022 (2:43 pm)

    In most  union contracts it’s not all about hourly wages! It’s about the employer nibbling away at some benefit or protection they have and want to keep…

    • Denny March 15, 2022 (4:15 pm)

      Couldn’t agree more. Wage is a significant portion of labor agreements but healthcare, retirement and contract language are just as important. I’ve seen some of the specific language in the companies “last best and final” and it is largely negating the previous contract, after the teamsters fought so hard for it. 

  • Paul March 15, 2022 (11:20 pm)

    Salmon Bay is not good.  

    • George March 16, 2022 (8:46 am)

      Whats wrong with Salmon Bay ?The owner has deep community ties and is fantastic to his employees ?

Sorry, comment time is over.