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Longshoreman’s Union wants to tack on $4M to Seattle tunnel price tag

The Longshoreman's Union is fighting for more jobs to muck away the dirt from the Seattle tunnel that's now being dug to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. (WSDOT Photo/File)

Taken from Monday’s edition of The David Boze Show

Whenever you hear conservatives running for office and they say state construction projects end up costing you more than they should, it’s often because of who we’re paying to do the work. For how much we have to pay them we might be able to get other companies to do the work for far cheaper.

The Longshoreman’s Union is fighting for more jobs to muck away the dirt from the Seattle tunnel that’s now being dug to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

The Longshoreman’s Union has already delayed the arrival of Big Bertha. They wouldn’t let the massive drilling machine come ashore when it first arrived in the Puget Sound. By holding Bertha hostage, they were able to get the Seattle Tunnel Partners contracting team to sign a contract turning over the jobs to the Longshoremen. Contractors say they were forced to sign that contract under duress.

There are four jobs that involve moving dirt. Traditionally, those jobs belong to the longshoremen, but instead, contractors have hired two operating engineers and two carpenters, who would be able to do other jobs if there wasn’t “muck” to move. Contractors expect to save almost $4 million, with building trades workers who can switch to other tasks when the muck isn’t moving.

Longshoremen are talking picketing work on the tunnel, but have also discussed directly obstructing work to be done on the Seattle tunnel.

Defining Longshoreman work as digging, just because it’s near the shore, is like saying anyone out there digging up razor clams is doing longshoreman’s work.

Every clam digger might be a longshoreman.

(If I say that too loudly, the Longshoremen’s Union might begin to think that’s the case.)

How often are our construction projects dictated by these strange and arbitrary rules that artificially inflate the price of what it is we’re paying for? If it’s $4 million over these four jobs – that’s an insane amount. For just moving dirt!

I think it should be a wake-up call for everyone else in the state. When we’re trying to build a bridge we can’t build a bridge. We study it for a decade and-a-half, we spend more time just studying things then when we do actually building things – and we’re still dealing with lawsuits and surveys.

We used to be able to build something. Now we have this obscene process whereby we have special interests and bureaucracies that find justifications for their own existence by creating more rules. It’s strangling us.

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