Looming Strike Vote Threatens to Shut Down Construction Work Throughout King County

International Brotherhood Of Teamsters. (PRNewsFoto/International Brotherhood of Teamsters)

Teamsters Local 174 Members at Four Concrete Companies and One Cement Company Will Likely be Voting to Strike Saturday Morning

(TUKWILA, WA)—Negotiations for a group of nearly 300 concrete truck drivers and plant workers fell apart almost as soon as they started, after management from the five involved companies made clear they had no intention of allowing improvements for safer working conditions, hours of work, wages, and even their legal requirements surrounding rest breaks and earned sick leave.

This insulting attitude comes after these workers just spent the last 15 months exposing themselves and their families to COVID-19 while making their employers millions in earnings. Now, these Teamsters Local 174 members stand on the brink of a strike vote, which will occur on Saturday morning.

The affected companies are Cadman, CalPortland, Lehigh Cement, Salmon Bay Sand & Gravel, and Stoneway Concrete. Once members vote to authorize a strike, one can be called as soon as 12:01AM on Sunday when the current contract expires, and would halt all ongoing construction projects where concrete is involved.

Negotiations derailed rapidly when management brought proposals to the table that would make the concrete industry an objectively worse place to work. Their proposals not only gutted most economic incentives for hard work, but did so at the same time they chose to charge their customers for the newly enacted State Sick and Safe Leave Law – turning a pro-worker state law into a moneymaking scheme for themselves, while ignoring employees' pleas to take safety on the job seriously. Even more egregiously, management outright refused to take any action to stop abusive, harassing, demeaning, and racially charged comments from management towards their employees. When presented with evidence that a company dispatcher had been abusive toward a member of the rank-and-file Bargaining Committee, management not only refused to address the situation, but went so far as to tell the dispatcher what was said about him, leading to a retaliatory message to the driver.

"With the driver shortage, and the construction industry making money hand over fist, I cannot understand why management is working so hard to make this difficult job even harder than it already is, and drive more of us out of the industry forever," said Brett Gallagher, concrete driver from CalPortland. "We haven't even started talking about money yet, but the garbage they've put on the table so far is enough to show they do not have any respect for the work we do. We have worked ourselves to the bone throughout this pandemic, putting in the hours and accepting the health risks, and now management wants to find ways to make things even more miserable for us? Not going to happen."

Four years ago, bad faith negotiations in the concrete industry led to an eight-day strike at CalPortland.

"If these companies want to play games by thinking we will back down and accept cuts to our guaranteed daily work hours, seniority rights, vacation accruals, discipline language, and just about everything else in this contract, I recommend they remind themselves what happened four years ago," said Teamsters Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer Rick Hicks. "They thought they could beat us then, and they were wrong. We have not become weaker since then – we have become stronger and are more unified in our resolve to achieve a fair contract worthy of the work we provide. It's time for the companies to start treating our members with respect!"

Founded in 1909, Teamsters Local 174 represents 8,600 working men and women in Seattle and the surrounding areas. "Like" us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TeamstersLocal174.

Jamie Fleming, (206) 441-6060

/PRNewswire -- July 28, 2021/

SOURCE Teamsters Local 174

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