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Longshoremen picketing for jobs at Seattle tunnel site

Dirt coming out from Bertha's trip underground is being trucked to a barge. The Longshoremen's union is picketing because they feel they're entitled to be driving those trucks. (Photo courtesy KING 5)

Taken from Tuesday’s edition of The Dori Monson Show.

We’ve got some thuggery going on in downtown Seattle where the project is underway for the Seattle tunnel. This project is going to be a nightmare. It’s going to be billions of dollars over budget, there’s just no question about it. But one of the things that will no doubt help drive up costs is the thuggery that’s happening now.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union are picketing and trying to keep trucks out of the tunnel excavation site. The trucks have to haul dirt from the excavation of the tunnel to barges to be hauled away.

The ILWU members are upset because they believe a contract signed earlier this year gives them the barge-loading jobs. ILWU workers view the waterfront positions as their territory.

But Chris Dixon, the project manager for contractor Seattle Tunnel Partners, tells KIRO Radio’s Kim Shepard that the contract was signed under duress because the longshoremen were refusing to offload the boring machine unless officials agreed to provide them the four jobs now in dispute.

“The ship was there Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and on Friday night, we signed that agreement under duress,” says Dixon. “There was no way the ship was going to be allowed to pull into port and unload the TBM (Tunnel Boring Machine) without the agreement signed. That agreement did include the work for conveying that excavated material from the tunnel and loading the barges.”

“The agreement for shipping the TBM that the manufacturer had with the shipping company said that once the ship arrived in Elliott Bay, if it didn’t pull into port within seven days, the ship was free to leave with the TBM.”

So the longshoremen were going to keep the tunneling machine from offloading unless they were given a couple of these jobs. This is just nothing but thuggery that’s taking place down there.

Now, the longshoremen are trying to prevent trucks from getting in and out of the tunnel. We’ve seen this kind of behavior before from the longshoremen, just a couple years ago over a dispute near Longview.

I know a couple longshoremen who are really, really good dudes. But the union seems to cultivate thuggery. The dock workers back in New Jersey, New York, where the mob runs everything – it sounds like the same tactics here. ‘We’re not going to let your machine off the ship, unless you give us some work.’

By the way, hauling dirt is not that tough of a job. If they can do it cheaper with labor outside of this union and save the taxpayers a couple dollars, why not? It doesn’t take that much skill. It doesn’t take that much expertise.

I’m not saying driving a truck is easy. I have great respect for truck drivers. But I don’t think hauling dirt from the tunnel project to a barge on the waterfront – a short distance – I don’t think you necessarily need that to be a job carried out by this union.

It’s hauling dirt! It’s not necessary to have the highest paid labor to haul dirt.

Taken from Tuesday’s edition of The Dori Monson Show.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Union pickets Seattle tunnel project over 4 jobs
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