Seattle area-concrete companies make return-to-work offer to striking drivers
Seattle-area concrete suppliers have made an offer to striking delivery drivers to have them return to work in exchange for medical coverage in April and continued negotiations on a new contract.
The offer was sent to Teamsters Local 174 on Thursday by a coalition of four concrete suppliers, offering to pay for the union’s medical insurance in April, provided that drivers agree to return before April 1, and that they remain on the job for “a minimum of 60 calendar days to allow for continued negotiations” with the help of a federal mediator.
According to a statement issued to MyNorthwest, the union is “attempting to schedule an in-person meeting with the companies” where they can “ask additional questions about the proposal,” and as of Friday evening, they were awaiting a response.
That said, the union also expressed a level of hesitance at the initial terms of the offer.
“Asking our members to go back to work with no progress or commitment to solving the serious problems that led our members to strike in the first place is not an ‘offer,’” Teamster Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer Rick Hicks told MyNorthwest late last week. “The companies are requesting our members end their strike in order to continue a mediation process that has already proven fruitless time and time again.”
This comes in the wake of the latest failed round of negotiations between the union and employers earlier this week, where the Teamsters claimed that employers met with them “for five minutes before caucusing for 20 minutes and then did not provide a timeline for their response.”
A subsequent response from suppliers alleged that they had not been permitted enough time to weigh an offer from the union to return to work if a third-party arbitrator stepped in to “make business decisions regarding ongoing labor negotiations for the companies,” the difference being that an arbitrator would be able to issue a binding decision, unlike a mediator, who would function more as a neutral third party to aid in negotiations.
“Rather than respecting the Companies request to consider the offer, Teamsters 174 immediately released a previously prepared statement attacking the companies and asserting bad intentions,” a spokesperson for one of he companies claimed.
Meanwhile, the strike is fast approaching its fifth month, as concerns continue to mount over potential delays to crucial construction projects, including West Seattle Bridge repairs.