Union ready-mix concrete truck drivers in Seattle voted to strike when their contract expired July 31. As of Wednesday, more than a quarter of them have walked off the job, according to the Seattle Times.
Negotiations with five sand and gravel companies broke down several weeks ago after the companies and union representatives could not come to terms.
Calling it the Unfair Labor Practice strike, Teamsters Local 174 Director of Negotiations Patty Warren said, "As we have said again and again, you cannot reach a deal with someone who isn't willing to actually negotiate with you."
Drivers for CalPortland, one of five area companies, walked last Friday and a Teamsters Local 174 spokesperson said yesterday the is a "pretty high likelihood" that drivers will strike the other four companies involved. Those companies are CalPortland, Stoneway, Salmon Bay Sand & Gravel, Lehigh Cement and Cadman.
Teamster drivers have been offered a 12 percent pay increase and benefits over the next three years. The average union driver now makes about $31 per hour.
In a statement on its website, CalPortland said some of its mixer trucks loaded with perishable concrete were simply abandoned by drivers at plants, setting in motion the potential for damage to company property that required additional handling and safety measures to extract the concrete while it could still be managed.
In 2008 the drivers accepted a contract with no wage increase for three years, understanding the industry was being hard hit by the recession. Now that the city is in the midst of a massive contruction boom, the union feels the time has arrived to make up for those lost wages.