25 January, 2022330 concrete mixer drivers, dump truck drivers, and cement plant employees, all members of Teamsters Local 174, have been on strike for over two months as negotiations on a new agreement has stalled.
The striking workers are employed at six different companies in the Seattle area of the United States. Two of the six companies are subsidiaries of Heidelberg Cement, namely Cadman and Lehigh Cement. Local 174’s members work under seven contracts bargained simultaneously, with the most recent one expired in July last year.
The members of Teamsters Local 174 are asking for a deal that has already been agreed to by all other construction-related companies in the area.
Expected negotiations started six months, but soon fell apart as the employer stalled and failed to negotiate in good faith.
The employers’ offer not only underperformed the wage increases in other recent construction industry union contracts, but even more insultingly, fell short of full medical coverage for the group of 300 workers who have been working nonstop throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the union, their proposal would save retired members nearly US$6,000 per year in premiums, and wouldn’t cost the companies a thing, since Local 174’s membership has pledged to cover any cost increases the company may incur.
“Livelihoods are on the line for thousands of workers. This strike has so far cost two of our members their lives. Health insurance for hundreds of our members and their families will run out at the end of the month. How high does the cost of this strike need to go before these companies start taking this seriously?” says Teamsters Local 174 secretary-treasurer Rick Hicks.
After the last mediation session failed, the workers have no choice but to continue the strike, which has so far lasted for over two months.
Founded in 1909, Teamsters Local 174 represents 8,600 working men and women in Seattle and the surrounding areas.
Alexander Ivanou, IndustriALL materials Industries officer says:
“We are shocked at the employers' arrogance avoiding negotiations in good faith with the union, forcing them to take industrial action to make their voices heard. We express our strong solidarity with all members of Teamsters Local 174. The truth is on the workers’ side, and we will continue to support them in their fight for justice.”