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Teamsters leverage Seattle market strength in contract settling CalPortland strike

Members of Teamsters Local 174 in Tukwila, Wash., approved a four-year contract last month with the Seattle market’s principal ready mixed operators: CalPortland, Cadman and Lehigh Cement, Stoneway Concrete, and Salmon Bay Sand & Gravel. Ratification of a deal covering nearly 300 drivers had major implications for concrete deliveries in downtown Seattle and areas immediately north, where technology companies and their employees are fueling a wave of mid- and high-rise building projects.

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Seattle’s mid- and high-rise building boom served as the backdrop for Teamsters 174 rank & file picketing CalPortland plants. PHOTOS: Teamsters Local 174 (picketer); Concrete Products (construction)

The contract includes what union officials contend are record-setting wage increases, higher pension contributions, and full maintenance of healthcare benefits, plus language protecting “Teamster work in King County from being undercut by drivers brought in from outlying areas at lower wage rates.” It was finalized a week after 86 drivers picketed CalPortland ready mixed plants, union officials claiming unfair labor practices and absence of good faith bargaining. The strike commenced with the threat of similar action against peer operators.

“A strike is hard on everyone involved, and our CalPortland members held the picket lines with courage and patience,” says Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer Rick Hicks. “Without their sacrifice, we could never have gotten this incredible contract … Our members in this industry have been rock solid since the very beginning. Through their strength, solidarity, and commitment to following through to the bitter end, we were able to reach a life-changing deal that will bring them the job security and economic rewards they deserve for the hard work they do, day in and day out.”

The CalPortland work stoppage impacted projects involving other Building and Construction Trades union members, who along with allied groups and individuals expressed support to Local 174 members on the picket lines.