Concrete truckers receive $1,000,000 support from Teamsters National Union

Teamsters President Sean O’Brien came to Seattle four days after his election to national office to support striking concrete truckers.

Photo by Patrick Robinson

On their fourth day in office today, Teamsters General President Sean O’Brien and General Secretary-Treasurer Fred Zuckerman traveled to Seattle from Washington DC to join striking Local 174 members at Stoneway Concrete.

O’Brien and Zuckerman presented members on the picket line with $1,000,000 in International support to help workers and their families who faced hardship during the strike.

That money, O’Brien explained, will go into the local strike fund, and “They’ll get a check next Friday for $2,000. And then the next few weeks left, they’ll get an increase in their weekly strike pay.

We will give 100% support. We will win this strike. Our members demand what they are worth, and they will get what they are worth. »

O’brien explained that he sees this as a high priority for his management team. “Once we took over four days ago we started running so we’re going to help our struggling members our members went on strike about 127 days ago and you know it’s time to end this we have to fight, we are gonna fight.

Earlier today the companies involved issued a joint press release offering to pay the driver’s health insurance for April if he returned to work for the next 60 days as negotiations continued.

Obrien said: “It’s an empty promise. If they were so convinced that they would have accepted interest arbitration, we are ready to roll the dice one way or the other, and the Interest arbitration could be 50/50 at that point If they’re really committed to getting this deal, getting our members back to work, let’s move on to interest arbitration.

They’re spending more money on these scabs, and all that bogus labor and lost labor. If they’d just come down and stop being so greedy, they’re tripping over dollars trying to save nickels. It’s a shame.

Now it is one of the drivers’ wives who judges that some of these trucks have sat out of use for so long that they need to be restored to working order.

You know, there have been terrible tragedies because of this, there have been suicides. There were mental health issues. “

Westside Seattle has confirmed that at least two of the drivers have in fact taken their own lives since the strike began, but it’s unclear if their issues or actions are related to those issues.

“Their employees made them the success that they are and they should be held accountable. They are being held accountable today.

I have a simple message for these employers as a new General Chairman team says we will use every resource we have to win this strike. It is a full contact sport. Put on your helmet and button your chinstraps, we’re good to go. “

A 15-year-old veteran driver, Jay Mullen, explained that the union has been working without a signed contract since August 1 last year. He said the core of the dispute rests on two issues. First, the nature of the contract allows the employer, any concrete business involved, to determine how the money paid is allocated. Mullen said the union requested that 46 cents of every dollar per hour be targeted towards their health and wellness plan for retirees. As part of their overall salary package, they pay for their own health insurance, he said. Concrete companies would disagree with this according to Mullen. The other problem was that annual increases in health care premiums meant they always lagged. We wanted them to maintain our existing health care plan, which usually increased between 10 and 20 cents an hour. “All we want is a fair deal. We’re not asking for anything more. They put out a number. 18% increase. But if you take the 18%, we end up having $10 of the hour behind all other trades in the total package. . That’s if we took the current contract offer at the time our other rolling counterparts in this industry.”

Regarding the West Seattle Bridge, he explained that he has great respect for the Seattle Department of Transportation and that one of the reasons the process is taking so long is that it is very demanding. “Test and test again, then have someone check their test results. You’re in good hands with them. They do the job right.”

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