CHOKEPOINTS

Sound Transit anxiously waiting for concrete worker strike to end

Feb 15, 2022, 5:07 AM

Sound Transit, concrete...

Looking north, crews finish concrete for the decks of the South Bellevue Station platform in 2018. (Photo courtesy of Sound Transit/Flickr)

(Photo courtesy of Sound Transit/Flickr)

This is a very critical week for the King County concrete strike: If negotiations don’t wrap up soon, some big construction projects could start being pushed back.

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell set Sunday, Feb. 20, as the drop-dead date for returning the flow of concrete, or the reopening of the West Seattle Bridge could be pushed beyond the June 30 deadline.

West Seattle Bridge reopening jeopardized by concrete strike

The bridge project is about 30 truckloads shy of what it needs to keep on pace.

While not so specific, Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff said all the light rail expansion projects in King County are now at risk due to the strike. The Lynnwood, Bellevue, Redmond, and Federal Way extensions are all supposed to open in 2023 or 2024.

“Those delivery dates are increasingly in doubt the longer this strike presses on,” Rogoff told Sound Transit board members last week. “This needs to end.”

“Within the next two weeks, advancing our projects requires more than 650 more deliveries that will be missed without resolution of the strike,” Rogoff continued.

For those keeping a total of the missed deliveries, Rogoff revealed the latest stats.

“We’ve missed delivery of more than 26,100 cubic yards of concrete,” he said. “That’s equivalent to more than 2,600 truckloads or, for perspective, a line of concrete trucks running back to back for more than 17 miles in length.”

That’s a line of idling trucks from downtown Seattle to about the Alderwood Mall in Lynnwood.

Concrete worker strike crippling major construction projects in King County

The contractor job losses continue to mount as well as the strike continues.

“Our contractors have had to lay off 230 workers so far,” Rogoff said.

Another 160 jobs are threatened over the next two weeks.

Rogoff said it’s hard to watch this from the outside, with no real way to impact the negotiations.

As a reminder of what the strike is all about: About 330 Teamsters went on strike against six concrete suppliers on Dec. 3, 2021. The workers are asking for better pay and benefits. Those six suppliers have offered a 17% raise over three years, plus increased medical benefits. The union workers say that’s still well below the market standard.

Both sides in this dispute have dug in their heels and are blaming each other for the impasse.

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Sound Transit anxiously waiting for concrete worker strike to end