SEATTLE - Bertha, the giant underground drilling machine has gone just 24 feet under downtown Seattle. Some of that was expected. Some of it wasn't. After 45 days of drilling that averages out to only 6.4 inches a day.
Bertha has not been able to step up the pace since a labor dispute between the Longshore union and construction trades since August 20th, when a jurisdictional dispute involving between four and eight jobs errupted with pickets over whether the job of loading the dirt and muck from that drilling into a barge belongs to the construction trades or the dock workers.
On Tuesday the face -off between unions continues in a Seattle hearing room before representatives of the National Labor Relations Board. A decision by the board determining whether the construction trades including the carpenters should keep those jobs or transfer some or all of them to the Longshore union.
On Monday, the extensive system of covered conveyor belts designed to move massive amounts of dirt out from behind the drilling machine over to the waterfront remained silent.