Amid record-setting boom, Teamsters find employers’ lowball offer laughable
TUKWILA (Aug. 4, 2017) — The following was posted earlier this week by Teamsters Local 174:
The auditorium at the Teamsters Local 174 Union Hall was packed once again Tuesday with an army of orange shirts, as employees from five Sand & Gravel companies — Cadman, Stoneway, CalPortland, Salmon Bay Sand & Gravel, and Lehigh Cement — attended a 9 a.m. meeting to discuss the status of their contract negotiations. The contract had expired at midnight the night before.
The status of their negotiations?
“No deal,” Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer Rick Hicks told the assembled crowd. “We were at it until almost one o’clock in the morning last night. They gave us a last-best-and-final offer, that wasn’t even close to what you sent us to get. Not just in the money, but in the language that would protect your jobs.”
“These employers were trying to convince us that even though Seattle keeps setting new construction records week after week, they aren’t making record profits,” Hicks continued, his voice laced with sarcasm. “Are you ready for this? They tried to tell us that skyscrapers aren’t built with concrete anymore. They’re built with wood and steel from China.”
The room erupted in laughter at that ridiculous statement.
“These are the guys that pour the concrete. You can’t tell them buildings aren’t made with concrete and expect them to do anything but laugh,” Stoneway employee and rank-and-file Bargaining Committee member John Anderson said after the meeting ended. “We’re out there day and night pouring concrete to build buildings! These guys are kidding us, right?”
The group responded to the employers’ lowball last-best-and-final offer predictably: with a unanimous refusal to even vote on the offer.
After that, a huge group volunteered to help put together picket signs in preparation for the possibility of a strike. In fact, there were so many volunteers, the assembly lines were packed and there were still bodies to spare.
And here’s Wednesday’s update…
Another lowball offer rejected as the probability of strike increases
TUKWILA — For the second time in a week, concrete trucks across the Seattle area sat empty Wednesday as their drivers attended another meeting at the Local 174 Union Hall to discuss their Employers’ latest contract offer. And also for the second time in a week, the Companies’ lowball offer was rejected with a boisterous voice vote, as the group unanimously agreed that the offer was not even worth voting.
Over 90% of the 294 Teamsters mixer drivers and support employees working at Cadman, Stoneway, CalPortland, Salmon Bay Sand & Gravel, and Lehigh Cement were in attendance at the 9:00AM meeting. Once again the room was packed, with orange “Rock Solid” shirts worn by most of the meeting’s attendees.
The highlight of the meeting was the speeches given by the members themselves. These speeches came not only from members of the rank-and-file Bargaining Committee, but from various people in the assembled crowd: older workers who had over thirty years on the job, younger workers who had never been on strike before, and workers from nearly all of the different Companies and work locations represented in the room. The message of the speeches was universal: we are standing together in solidarity to demand that our Employers give us the respect we deserve.
One speaker reminded the crowd that in 2008, they had accepted a contract with no wage increases over three years. They did this because the industry was in a downturn, and the workers knew that was what they needed to do in order to keep their Employers in business so that they would have jobs to come back to when the industry improved. Now that Seattle is in the midst of a massive construction boom, the time has arrived to make up for those years.
Founded in 1909, Teamsters Local 174 represents 7,200 working men and women in the Seattle area.