A strike has shut down or slowed work at some of the Seattle area's largest construction projects.

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A strike by 500 union fire-sprinkler installers has shut down or slowed work at many of the Seattle area’s largest construction projects.

Tom Collins, a spokesman for Sprinkler Fitters and Apprentices Local 699, said the union struck area sprinkler contractors Tuesday after their contract expired at midnight.

Picket lines went up at about 25 sites, Collins said. They included the Fifteen Twenty-One Second Avenue condominium, the Olive 8 hotel-condo project and the 818 Stewart office building in downtown Seattle; the Skyline at First Hill retirement community in Seattle; and the Bravern mixed-use project, Bellevue Towers condominium and City Center Plaza office development in downtown Bellevue.

Most other union construction workers appeared to honor the picket lines Wednesday, said Dean Allen, chief executive of McKinstry, one of the contractors at odds with the union

He called the strike “unfortunate, but it’s probably a normal part of the bargaining process.” About two dozen contractors are affected, he said.

Bill Bieber of Opus Northwest, Fifteen Twenty-One’s developer, said the strike had shut down building and other major projects around the region. He said the move took Opus by surprise because the company had not been aware the union was negotiating with the project’s sprinkler subcontractor.

David Thyer, president of R.C. Hedreen, Olive 8’s developer, said about 20 nonunion construction workers were working on the project Wednesday. Normally, more than 300 people would be on the job, he said.

“It’s difficult for us to lose work days,” Thyer said. “Hopefully they can resolve all this by next week.”

Collins said bargaining had been going on for about a month, but no new negotiating sessions are scheduled. One sticking point is the contract’s term, he said. The union wants three years, but employers want four.

Employer-subsidized parking for workers at downtown Seattle sites is another issue, he said.

Allen said unresolved issues include wages, work conditions and the contract’s term, but he would not discuss specifics. He said he did not know when bargaining would resume.

“The question will be how long it lasts,” said Dan Ivanoff, managing investment partner of Schnitzer West, developer of the Bravern and 818 Stewart. “If it lasts a long time, it could have a significant impact on people.”

The strike affected work at Schnitzer’s projects, Ivanoff said, “but I wouldn’t say it has shut us down.”

It’s been nearly two years since a major construction-workers strike hit the Seattle area.

In the summer 2006, concrete workers represented by Operating Engineers Local 302 struck the four companies that provide concrete for almost all development in King County, idling dozens of projects. The walkout lasted four weeks before a settlement was reached.

Eric Pryne: 206-464-2231 or epryne@seattletimes.com