Labor dispute derails Bertha

SEATTLE - Bertha, the tunnel-boring machine, is all dressed up.....and going nowhere.  A labor dispute brought on by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union has effectively shut Bertha down in her tracks, the Seattle Times reported.  First it was a problem with fiberglass rods clogging Bertha's conveyor.  Tunneling work advanced only 24 feet forward.  Then, the dispute with the ILWU, which set up pickets, shut down Bertha completely.

The Times reported that construction firms intended to use building-trades union members to operate a conveyor belt, scoop dirt and position barges off Terminal 46.  All of this work as part of the overall tunnel contract.  The ILWU contends that all of those jobs are in their territory, because they entail moving materials offshore.  Thus, a stalement, as the Seattle Tunnel Partners construction team hasn't tried to send workers past ILWU pickets, the paper reported.

Bertha is supposed to reach South Lake Union in about 14 months.