Today, on the sixth day of the Unfair Labor Practice strike against sand and gravel company CalPortland, the rest of the nearly 300 Teamsters in the sand and gravel industry prepare to join their 86 CalPortland Brothers on the picket lines.
The potential for expanding the strike was discussed at a 9 a.m. meeting at the Teamsters Local 174 Union Hall this morning, and the reaction from the crowd was thunderous: the drivers are absolutely ready to join CalPortland on strike to protest the various Unfair Labor Practices their employers have committed at the bargaining table.
These Unfair Labor Practices, which include refusal to bargain in good faith, refusal to provide information necessary for bargaining, and rejecting proposals without explanation or counter-offer, have made it impossible for the Union to reach any sort of deal with the Employers.
“As we have said again and again, you cannot reach a deal with someone who isn’t willing to actually negotiate with you,” said Teamsters Local 174 Director of Negotiations Patty Warren. “By the end of the day, the best they were willing to do was to propose the same offer that our members had already unanimously refused to even vote on. That is not bargaining in good faith.”
“We saw absolutely no change in behavior at the bargaining table,” said Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer Rick Hicks. “CalPortland has been shut down for almost a week, and they all knew that if they didn’t start resolving some of these Unfair Labor Practices, the rest of them would be following in CalPortland’s footsteps. And yet still, we got the exact same refusal to budge on any proposals, refusal to explain their position, and refusal to provide us with information that might justify their approach. The Union made a good faith proposal that was a 26 percent reduction from our previous proposal, which the companies rejected outright without even giving us a counter proposal. They are leaving us with no other choices here.”
The meeting at the Union Hall was standing room only, and included a number of CalPortland Teamsters who had just come off the night shift on the picket lines. Still, the energy level was high.
Lee Nugent, Exectuive Director of the Washington State Building and Construction Trades, told the group that the 130,000 members of that organization “stand firmly on your side,” and the room erupted in a standing ovation.
As for the sand and gravel employees who are not yet on strike, they are more than ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with their CalPortland Brothers. “We’ve been spending time on the CalPortland picket lines, getting ourselves geared up to join them,” said Bargaining Committee member and Stoneway employee Sean Stott. “We hoped this could be avoided, but we’re ready to go full throttle until it’s done.”
Meanwhile, the CalPortland drivers – who have become expert strikers after their six days on the line – offered one regret about potentially being joined on strike by the rest of their industry: “Are we gonna have to share the truck now?” CalPortland Teamster Brett Gallagher asked, referring to the Local 174 tractor-trailer which is currently parked directly in front of CalPortland and Glacier Northwest’s corporate office on the strike line in Seattle.
“I think it looks pretty good right where it is,” responded Local 174 Business Agent Michael Walker, a former driver for Cadman who now works as the Business Agent for the sand and gravel workers.
“The solidarity we’ve seen in this group over the past week has been incredible, and now these Employers are going to see just exactly how tough these guys are,” said Rick Hicks. “These companies chose to mess with one of the strongest and most militant employee groups in the strongest and most militant Teamster Local in the country.”
“We are going to fight, and we are going to win,” Hicks continued. “These guys aren’t going back to work without a contract that we can all be proud of.”
Founded in 1909, Teamsters Local 174 represents 7,200 working men and women in the Seattle area. “Like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TeamstersLocal174.