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Northwest Carpenters Union cancels strike pickets Friday due to 'roaming protests'

The union said wildcat strikes and roaming protests resulted in threats of violence and harassment against picketing union members.

SEATTLE — The Northwest Carpenters Union, which is on strike over wage and benefit negotiations with the Associated General Contractors (AGC), canceled its planned pickets Friday due to roaming protests.

“We are sorry to report that roaming protests headed by a small, unsanctioned group of protestors, that includes union and non-union members, have led to the temporary closure of all Northwest Carpenters Union picket activities starting tomorrow, Friday, September 24,” a letter to union members reads.

The union, made up of construction workers and craftspeople around the region, voted to go on strike after members voted 56% to 44% to reject the fourth offer from AGC to increase wages and benefits.

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The offer would have given workers a more than 20% wage and benefits increase over four years, given a $1.50 per hour parking reimbursement, increased employer contributions to health care and pensions and provided stronger harassment and discrimination protections, among other things.

The strike, which started Thursday last week, was supposed to target specific sites like the Microsoft Corporate Campus in Redmond, which is undergoing refurbishments, or an affordable housing high-rise project in First Hill with sanctioned work stoppages and picket lines.

However, roaming protests and wildcat strikes, a term that refers to work stoppages unsanctioned by the workers’ union, affected sites where work was supposed to continue.

The union’s letter Thursday said that there have been near-altercations, threats of violence, harassment of union members walking on unsanctioned picket lines and illegal picketing activity.

These activities leave the union open to liability, and wildcat strikes have already resulted in a number of employers contacting union leadership through legal counsel to inform them that they are taking action against the union, according to the letter.

“These wildcat actions, and roaming protests, conducted in the name of union carpenters, would likely drain union resources (union members’ dues), and threaten the livelihood of our members,” the letter reads.

The union said that the strike continues, and leadership will convene Sunday to decide picket locations and schedules for next week.

The update is expected Sunday evening.