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King County Concrete Oligopoly Refuses to Return to Negotiations
(SEATTLE) – The following is a statement from Teamsters Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer Rick Hicks – on behalf of over 300 striking concrete mixer drivers and concrete plant workers and the Local 174 Executive Board – on the ongoing sand and gravel industry general strike at the giant German construction company, HeidelbergCement (Cadman and Lehigh Cement), the Japanese-based Taiheiyo Cement (CalPortland), Stoneway Concrete (Gary Merlino Construction), and Salmon Bay Sand and Gravel:
“Today marks the forty-first day of an ongoing general strike by more than 300 concrete mixer drivers and concrete plant workers employed by the companies that control the sand and gravel industry in King County. The unprecedent general strike began on December 3, 2021, after the companies left their frontline employees with no choice but to go on strike to demand that their employers stop violating federal labor laws that protect workers’ rights.
“King County, the City of Seattle, the State of Washington, and SoundTransit have all urged the employers and Local 174 to engage in mediation as part of good faith bargaining. But the companies’ lead negotiator, Charlie Oliver – who represents Stoneway Concrete and Gary Merlino Construction – has refused to engage in productive negotiations moderated by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
“The companies are demanding that workers accept a wage, healthcare and retirement package that amounts to a decrease in compensation over three years after taking inflation into account. The compensation package offered is also significantly less than recent packages presented to other construction workers in Seattle by the Associated General Contractors of Washington. Even worse, the companies have repeatedly refused to contribute to a health care plan that will save workers thousands of dollars per year in retirement, even though Local 174’s concrete industry members originally offered to cover any futurecost increases.
“The dramatically subpar demands have led industry insiders to speculate that the concrete companies forced the unfair labor practice strike as part of a multiyear effort to purge union workers from the Seattle construction industry and initiate frivolous legal actions in an attempt to bankrupt Teamsters Local 174.
“As the region’s construction industry grinds to a halt without concrete, endangering billions in critical construction and infrastructure projects funded by taxpayers, we anticipate that as much as 50 percent of the building trades industry’s workforce will be laid off. Therefore, we renew our call for the companies that control King County’s concrete industry to return to bargaining table. The union maintains our offer of federal mediation to help resolve these issues and will continue to engage in constructive negotiations that fairly honor the essential work of our members.”
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