UPDATE: Sept. 7, 2018: A tentative deal has been struck between the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 302 and the Associated General Contractors of Washington, The Seattle Times reported. If approved, the proposed master labor agreement would bring an end to a 17-day strike across jobsites in Western Washington.
The strike began Aug. 21 following the union's rejection of two proposals from AGCW. This third deal reportedly includes a 17.8% increase in pay and benefits over three years, up from the 13.1% increase and 15% increase that were previously proposed. A statement on AGCW's website posted Wednesday called this "the largest package increase in the history of our negotiations to Local 302."
The union, which represents concrete workers, pavers and other heavy equipment operators, directed its members to "stand down on all picketing actions and return to regular work status" effective Friday, Sept. 7.
- Union crane operators in western Washington state, along with other member trades of the International Union of Operating Engineers (Local 302), rejected a proposed new master labor agreement with the Associated General Contractors of Washington (AGCW) and went on strike Tuesday, slowing down construction projects throughout the area, according to The Seattle Times. Other trades represented by Local 302 include surveyors, concrete pump workers and material handlers.
- This was the parties' second pass at negotiating a new agreement that will govern work conditions, wages and work hours between the union and AGCW until the end of May 2020. Neither party has revealed exactly which parts of the proposed agreement were objectionable to Local 302 members, but, in a statement on its website, the agreement includes a 15.9% wage increase during the next three years, as well as a 13% increase in fringe benefits like pension pay. The previous agreement between the two expired at the end of May. Brian Turmail, vice president of public affairs and strategic initiatives at the Associated General Contractors of America, told Construction Dive that approximately one-third of its chapters negotiate area-wide collective bargaining agreements on behalf of their members.
- The union posted a notice that included exceptions to the strike, which included those who work for Skanska under a separate collective bargaining agreement, and gave instructions to its workers about how to exit their projects and carry out protests. There is no timetable yet for renegotiation.
Project labor agreements (PLAs), typically negotiated with trade unions, are a point of contention for many in the construction industry, but advocates maintain they set the rules for all participants of a construction project and are the best way to get a fairly run job. Critics argue that union prevailing wage rates increase costs and put nonunion companies and workers at a disadvantage. Both the AGC of America and the Associated Builders and Contractors oppose forced, government-mandated PLAs.
But many companies choose to be party to such agreements in order to take advantage of standard benefits like the assurance that there will be no strikes or lockouts during their projects, a steady flow of workers trained on safety procedures and in their crafts, and reduced negotiating time by covering all trade unions under one contract.
Hudson Yards developer Related Cos. and the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York (BCTC) are locked in a battle of sorts about the labor agreement for the next phase of the massive development. Related claims that some unions that will be party to the new agreement swindled it out of $100 million and have taken to negotiating directly with the trade unions they want on the job. The company recently announced that it struck its own deal with the New York City District Council of Carpenters to provide labor at Hudson Yards, but BCTC president Gary LaBarbera told The Real Deal shortly after that there was no such deal and called the announcement a "mere press stunt for Related to try to save face."