FOLLOWUP: New idea for averting future concrete crises – have public entities make their own

(WSB photo, February 9)

2:29 PM: It’s been six weeks since Mayor Bruce Harrell and County Executive Dow Constantine stood in front of media in White Center and warned that the concrete drivers’ strike was starting to seriously hinder major public projects. Despite Teamsters Local 174 offering to send some drivers back to work at some companies, that apparently hasn’t happened yet. Today Constantine went to the King County Council, in collaboration with other entities including the city, and put forth a new idea: He wants them to approve what a news release describes as “legislation that would study the feasibility of King County and other local entities developing their own concrete manufacturing facilities to ensure the future of critical infrastructure construction in our region.” The study wouldn’t be due until December 1st, so, the county acknowledges, it’s not going to help the current situation. Meantime, we’re checking on the status of the nearer-term idea Constantine announced at that White Center event back in February, seeking alternate suppliers. We’re also checking with SDOT for any update on concrete supplies for the West Seattle Bridge, which has been closed exactly two years ago as of tomorrow.

3:18 PM: KCE spokesperson Chase Gallagher says the Request for Qualifications for alternate concrete suppliers closed March 11th, “no bids received.”

28 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: New idea for averting future concrete crises - have public entities make their own"

  • KT March 22, 2022 (2:35 pm)

    Eight months to study this idea.  Ah, Seattle.

    • AMD March 22, 2022 (3:33 pm)

      This is a county initiative so far.  

  • Rico March 22, 2022 (2:41 pm)

    Isn’t the strike all about the drivers, not the manufacturing facilities?   However, this is such a great idea,  why stop with concrete?   Maybe the county should be prepared for other labor issues too?    What if the electricians, plumbers, carpenters, steel workers, etc have issues with labor?I demand the county be prepared with complete construction crews and facilities on stand-by in every discipline !!   A concrete batch plant will be easy to permit, after all, a batch plant doesn’t take much space at all.  Maybe rezone a golf course?   BTW, how many work stoppages have effected concrete in the last 30 years?  I am guessing 1

  • shotinthefoot March 22, 2022 (2:45 pm)

    That is a great idea – and will really stick it to Gary Merlino’s concrete monopoly in this town! 

  • Jack March 22, 2022 (3:22 pm)

    So now the county is trying to undermine union concrete drivers? I thought the progressives would want to back the union. In addition to making concrete, they can also hire workers to build buildings thereby removing the need for a construction industry. Who needs private industry when the government can do it all.

    • Ivan Weiss March 22, 2022 (4:28 pm)

      For anyone who imagines, even for a second, that any such county-owned manufacturing facility, or the drivers who would service it, would be nonunion, I have an Alpine ski resort in West Texas to sell you.

      • CandrewB March 23, 2022 (6:55 am)

        So the leftists would create compliant union members to undermine an insolent union? Diabolically brilliant! 

  • snowskier March 22, 2022 (3:31 pm)

    Or maybe just set in place a contract with the existing facilities that know how to make the material.  If the county had a set of drivers, they could deliver to projects regardless of what the unions said, with room to use other drivers for overflow work.  Seems hiring some certified drivers and trucks is faster and more efficient than building a plant that the county has no idea how to do or operate. 

  • Jaye March 22, 2022 (3:45 pm)

    Isn’t Mr. Merlino the owner of the mega-mansion that’s a blight on the West Seattle waterfront? The one you can see, unfortunately, from Lincoln Park? The one with the faux-Spanish-Mediterranean-Colonial style architecture, a huge eyesore of a house no one ever seems to be home?If so, it proves the old saying about wealthy people being the biggest tightwads. (And not always having the best taste.)

  • Lola March 22, 2022 (4:17 pm)

    Have you seen the work the government does?  Just look at our roads for one.  I for one want a competent person doing the work.  Not someone who is looking for his next break or looking to stretch the job out for 9 months just because they can.  

    • Charles Burlingame March 23, 2022 (10:00 am)

      Wait until you hear who the government contracts with to do things like repair roads right now.

  • anonyme March 22, 2022 (4:36 pm)

    I’ve thought this for years.  BTW, the work done by the ‘government’ is done largely by independent contractors, not government employees. This is not a new problem – the same thing shut down work on the Arbor Heights sidewalk project 5(?) years ago.  I think all of the outsourcing by SDOT has just increased costs to taxpayers while doing nothing to increase efficiency.

    • WS Res March 22, 2022 (7:46 pm)

      Well, you can thank “drown it in a bathtub” small-government pushers who would rather see money go into the pockets of a few corporate owners who will drive wages down while keeping the spoils for themselves than into the pockets of a bunch of reasonably compensated government employees with good benefits and retirement plans.

  • Jort March 22, 2022 (5:42 pm)

    It would appear Seattle and King County are wanting to seize the means of production! Interesting tactic!

  • Hmmm March 22, 2022 (6:34 pm)

    Wait, I thought the union announced that they would proceed with public works projects like the bridge. Or did I misread that?

    • WSB March 22, 2022 (6:41 pm)

      The union and employers are still working out details of a return to (some) work, at last report.

  • deb March 22, 2022 (7:20 pm)

    Sad to remind us that on March 23, 2020, around 7:00pm, West Seattle Bridge was closed. 

  • Truth March 22, 2022 (7:54 pm)

    This is a county warning shot to the manufacturers to get back to the table or risk losing massive contracts.  Very likely it’s unfeasible but should add pressure to the talks. 

    • MyThruppence March 22, 2022 (8:51 pm)

      Bingo, and since tomorrow is the 2nd anniversary, I am sincerely hoping for an announcement that some sort of accommodation has been made in order to move at least our one project forward. If the private sector cannot, or will not, accommodate a critical public need, then reality requires alternate solutions. Every party here needs to be reminded that they are expendable, as are we all. 

    • Elton March 23, 2022 (1:49 pm)

      I hope this is a warning shot and not something serious. SDOT has its own crews and works at a glacial pace, would not want to see this expand into concrete work for the county.

  • eric March 22, 2022 (11:37 pm)

    I stand with the drivers. Give them what they need and be done with it.  Whenever I’m knee deep in mud, I appreciate what these guys do.  I’ve been on some rotten projects, but the drivers have always been cool and often helpful.

    • Tony March 23, 2022 (10:45 am)

       Eric, do you know what the drivers are demanding? How can you say just give the drivers what they want without knowing what each sides terms are. Do you have access to the full list of the teamsters demands and is there a list of counter offers being made by the companies that you are privy to. If not, I’m not sure how anyone can make a blanket statement one way or another.  

  • Pessoa March 23, 2022 (9:19 am)

    What makes anyone think that a unionized county workforce would be any less likely to strike? This is why FDR was adamantly opposed to public sector unions, because of their potential to impede public projects.  The fact that these will now be fellow county employees doesn’t inspire confidence in a “tough” bargaining process when labor agreements are negotiated.  

  • skeeter March 23, 2022 (9:27 am)

    Now I’m wondering if the King County government will begin manufacturing computer chips as well.

  • rob March 23, 2022 (8:27 pm)

     please someone call this what it is we now have democrats busting the unions.

    • Pessoa March 24, 2022 (12:40 pm)

      Unions have become extensions of the Democratic party, maybe it’s time they wise up and and realize that in the end no one has their back.  I would have more sympathy for the Teamster’s national if they at least expressed some, even token, solidarity with truckers in Canada, but instead they turned their back on them.  Having said all that, I personally can do without a bridge and oppose any attempts to undercut the Local 174  until an agreement is hashed out.   

  • Charlie March 25, 2022 (5:25 pm)

    Why wait on a study to build your own facility when the government could just use eminent domain to take one of the existing facilities from the greedy corporations?

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