Construction crews work on the Lynnwood Light rail station March 29. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

Construction crews work on the Lynnwood Light rail station March 29. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

Concrete walkout ends; Lynnwood light rail impact may linger

While drivers were picketing, Sound Transit’s project between Northgate and Lynnwood missed an estimated 4,900 deliveries.

MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — Concrete deliveries again are en route across Puget Sound construction sites after a four-month union strike ended last week.

Teamsters Local 174 drivers announced Friday they would return to work with hopes of “good faith” negotiating by concrete supplier companies.

“There’s too much pain and too much damage,” said Mike Walker, a Teamsters Local 174 business agent and driver for 26 years. “We just couldn’t let this go on.”

Teamsters Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer Rick Hicks in a statement said the return to work was about helping people in the region.

“We hope this very gracious offer means that the greedy concrete companies start negotiating in good faith and stop stonewalling negotiations, as they have for months,” he said.

About 300 union members, who drive concrete mix and dump trucks or work in support jobs, went on strike in December. They picketed six sites in King County, seeking better pay and health and retirement benefits. Walker said health benefits for retirees is the most important issue.

“It was never about money,” he said.

Representatives from the suppliers and union last met in February.

The union’s ranks are lower now after some members left for other jobs, quit or retired.

After some of the companies called back workers this week, Walker said, about 80 were now on the job.The union has said the original walkout involved about 330 workers.

“We’re going to keep bargaining,” Walker said. “They’ve got all these guys back at work now, but we’re not happy.”

The strike delayed an estimated 4,900 concrete deliveries at Sound Transit projects, according to a March 30 update. That’s enough to line concrete dump and mix trucks on I-5 from Lynnwood to SeaTac.

Most of those missed deliveries were for the 8½-mile Lynnwood Link extension project from Northgate in Seattle to the Lynnwood Transit Center.

The union offered to return to work in mid-March at two plants for some public works projects, including Sound Transit and the West Seattle Bridge.

In a statement, Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff thanked the Teamsters for returning to work. The agency’s staff were evaluating how the delays might affect schedules for light rail projects originally slated to open in 2024.

“While we cannot erase these delays, we will work to minimize their impact to the greatest degree possible and get these transformative projects open for service to our residents,” said Ron Lewis, Sound Transit executive director of design, engineering and construction management.

Ben Watanabe: bwatanabe@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3037; Twitter @benwatanabe.

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