Press Contact: Jamie Fleming Phone: (425) 281-0166 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
As Concrete Workers Demand to Bargain with Their Employers, King County Moves to Hold Companies Accountable for Delaying Public Works Projects
(SEATTLE) – Yesterday, the entire Teamsters Local 174 bargaining committee waited more than three hours outside Gary Merlino Construction headquarters, ready to negotiate a new contract to end the strike that has gone on for 83 days with no end in sight. While the Teamsters waited, King County Executive Dow Constantine held a press conference announcing the County intends to take matters into its own hands to prevent such work disruptions from impacting major construction projects in the future. These actions by the Teamsters and the County are certain to increase pressure on the six employers of the striking Teamster workers. These companies continue to hold taxpayer-funded projects hostage, including affordable housing projects that are desperately needed in this region.
King County’s “Request for Qualifications” (RFQ) invites concrete suppliers to make proposals directly to the County to provide concrete for future public works projects. In order to protect future publicly-funded projects, any company making a proposal must be signatory to a collective bargaining agreement, and the contract between that company and its union must include provisions to prevent strikes or lockouts during the duration of the agreement.
The RFQ is a direct response to the ongoing Unfair Labor Practice strike by 330 Teamster workers at Gary Merlino Construction Company, Cadman, CalPortland, Stoneway Concrete, Lehigh Cement Company and Salmon Bay Sand and Gravel. The strike began due to the employers’ failure to bargain in good faith over economic issues. In addition, the companies stuck to an offer on wages, healthcare, and pension that was far below what Teamster members were demanding and other construction trades workers were already receiving. However, as the strike has dragged on for weeks and now months, it has been proven that money is not the issue, as estimates for how much the strike cost this group of employers vastly outpace even the wildest estimates for how much a new contract would have cost them. Additionally, the concrete companies have long engaged in cartel-like behavior, using their monopolistic grip on the Seattle-area concrete market to set prices and pass through any cost increases directly to customers.
Meanwhile, as these concrete companies pursue their vendetta against the Teamsters, major public works projects in King County are sitting idle, and thousands of construction trades workers are laid off from their jobs. The costs of the strike to local and state government – and ultimately the taxpayers – are astronomical, and critical infrastructure projects are now months behind schedule. The goal of today’s RFQ is to prevent a similar situation from ever occurring again.
“This long-lasting strike has demonstrated that the companies supplying concrete in King County cannot be trusted to prioritize anything except their own personal agendas,” said Teamsters Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer Rick Hicks. “As this strike crept from weeks into months, there were countless organizations screaming for someone to put a stop to it – everyone from building trades unions to construction contractors to affordable housing organizations to elected officials – but still, the Employers stonewalled. This bold action by King County Executive Dow Constantine takes the power away from greedy and ego-driven individuals accountable to no one, and places it instead into the hands of elected officials who are accountable to their constituents. This will be a net positive not just for our members who are languishing on picket lines right now, but for everyone in our county who relies on a functioning construction industry for their living.”
“These concrete suppliers have operated as a cartel for far too long, charging customers whatever prices they want while at the same time refusing to care for their workers in the most basic and fundamental ways,” Hicks continued. “We are happy that King County Executive Constantine has taken this step to make clear that our members are more than just lines on a spreadsheet. They deserve respect.”
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.