SEATTLE - After several months on the picket line, hundreds of concrete workers are planning to return to work Monday morning.
Union workers with Teamsters Local 174 had been on strike for nearly half a year, asking for better wages, benefits and working conditions.
Last week, the union said 300 workers and dump truck drivers offered an "unconditional" return to work even as contract negotiations are ongoing.
"It’s a different tactic," said concrete worker Brett Gallagher. "We have been out for five months and it’s not just been us. It’s been supportive trades and the public been suffering along with all of us through this."
A spokesperson for a number of concrete plants said getting workers back on the job and producing pre-strike levels of production would take time.
But the battle grew beyond the picket line and hit the bottom line for contracting companies working on projects ranging from small to enormous. Due to the strike, hundreds of jobs were cut across the trade industries.
No deal has yet been reached in nine different proposals between the union and several local companies.
The strike delayed multiple construction projects throughout the region.
Last week, crews started working on the West Seattle Bridge despite the ongoing strike.
James Stark’s company, Capital West Homes, has focused mostly on projects in West Seattle. Between labor shortages, concrete shortages and more, the past two years have been anything but easy.
"The industry as a whole, concrete is another challenge stacked on top of other challenges we face," he said.
Just last week, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell was quoted in an SDOT email saying the mid-2022 target for reopening the bridge might actually not be impacted by the strike.
"Anybody that lives in West Seattle is just trying to be optimistic," said Stark.
Considering the twists and turns Stark and his company have survived for past two years, reopening Seattle’s busiest bridge on time or earlier than predicted would require him to temper expectations.
"The fact it’s a possibility is at least encouraging but I’m not holding my breath," he said.
Sound Transit says the delays have also impacted Link extension projects in Lynnwood, Federal Way, Bellevue and Redmond. WSDOT says missed concrete pours were also delayed work on SR 520, Colman Dock and more.
Those delays were why union workers decided five months on the picket line was long enough.
"We’re here with good faith ready to get back to work," said Gallagher.
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