UPDATE: A labor agreement reached Friday will put an end to a week-long strike by concrete truck drivers in the Seattle area, The Seattle Times reported. The local Teamsters union struck a deal with five area cement suppliers, though the terms have not been disclosed.
As many as one-quarter of Seattle-area concrete truck drivers were on strike this week, and more were likely to join them, stalling construction during the city's busy summer season, according to The Seattle Times.
The 300 Teamsters who drive concrete trucks in King County had been working without a contract with five area companies since the beginning of the month. The strike had some of the 74 major construction projects underway in the city, including the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement, waiting a week for concrete deliveries.
Details of the negotiations were not made public, but Teamsters officials said the concrete companies are not acting in good faith. Representatives of one company, CalPortland, said union demands are unreasonable and that the walk-off has harmed projects and perhaps equipment as well.
Although unions' influence in many areas of the country has dwindled, it's fairly unusual to see a full-on strike. Because of the nature of drivers' employment and service to multiple projects, they are typically not part of the trade-union project labor agreements (PLAs) that set rules for the resolution of labor disputes that arise on a job.
PLAs are collective bargaining agreements that determine what type and how many workers contractors must use on a project, as well as the wages and benefits those workers will receive. They usually forbid strikes and lockouts.
Construction industry groups like the Associated Builders and Contractors oppose PLAs, arguing that the agreements require nonunion employees and employers to pay into union benefits they'd otherwise have to join the union to receive. Industry groups also say PLAs often include negotiated wages that increase costs for nonunion contractors. Many trade unions counter that nonunion employers and employees should have to pay for negotiation efforts that benefit everyone working on a PLA job.
Some state governments have passed laws outlawing mandatory PLAs on state projects and prohibiting nonunion employees and employers from being forced to pay into union benefit programs. Missouri is the most recent state to ban mandatory PLAs on state-funded construction projects.