TUKWILA, Wash. — With their strike reaching 116 days, some local concrete workers are offering to return to work on several critical infrastructure projects in Seattle.
Teamsters Local No. 174 released a statement Monday, offering a return to work at Cadman Seattle, Lehigh Cement, and Salmon Bay Sand & Gravel to "meet community needs."
“It has become abundantly clear to us over the months this strike has gone on that these Employers simply do not care who they hurt in their quest to break the Union,” Teamsters Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer Rick Hicks said in a statement. “Thankfully, we are not like them in that regard. Unlike the Employers, we care deeply about our communities and the people who live in them, which is why we are making this good-faith offer. We are all in full agreement this is the right move for the industry and the community. Our Union is stronger than ever, and we will not give up our fight until we reach a fair contract.”
About 330 members of Teamsters Local No. 174 have been on strike since November 2021, saying that they are fighting for equity and the same benefits other construction workers around the city are given.
"To be clear, we are still on strike and are only returning to work at two plants so that some concrete can flow to critical projects. This is a favor for the communities being hurt by these employers’ union-busting, not a favor for the employers. They still need to come to the table and bargain with us until we reach a fair contract," Teamsters Local No. 174 Director of Communications Jamie Fleming told KING 5.
The four concrete companies on the other side of the strike issued a statement in late January that they had sent the "best package we have ever offered" to Teamsters Local No. 174, including a "17.6 percent pay increase over the next three years."
Projects like the University of Washington Medical Center's psychiatric hospital fell more than six months behind as a result of the strike. The West Seattle Bridge project also fell behind after the city promised it would be completed in mid-2022.
King County Executive Dow Constantine released a statement following the offer from the union, expressing his hope that the two sides can return to the negotiating table and work out a deal.
"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," Constantine said. "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."
Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell tweeted Monday night, thanking the Teamsters for "taking this extraordinary step forward toward ensuring concrete again flows on critical infrastructure projects. As negotiations continue, companies should follow this example in seeking good-faith solutions."
The union's offer indicates that workers will return to their positions on Tuesday morning while hoping bargaining between the two sides will continue.