After months on strike, some Seattle-area concrete mixer drivers could soon return to work — though they still don’t have a deal with their employers.

Teamsters Local 174 offered this week to return to work as soon as Tuesday at about half of the locations where workers are on strike. (At one company, workers would continue to strike on the Eastside, but would return to work in Seattle.) Negotiations would continue.

It’s still not clear, though, how soon this might happen or how many drivers might return to work. According to the union, the companies have said they legally have five days to respond.

A letter from Salmon Bay Sand and Gravel to the union Monday said the company had five days to “process the orderly reinstatement of the strikers” and would be in touch “in the very near future.”

In a statement Tuesday, the companies called for a full end to the strike. “The union established a limitation on their return to work by ending the strike for drivers at a couple of locations. We believe a complete end of the strike makes good sense for all concerned.”

“Nonetheless, the companies look forward to welcoming back the partial return of drivers and encourage the union to end the strike for the remaining 200+ drivers,” the statement said.


The strike of about 300 drivers has dragged on for months, slowing public and private construction jobs across the region.

While the two sides have clashed on wages, union officials say negotiations have stalled because the companies refuse to bargain in good faith or meet demands that the retiree medical plan be improved. The companies have said they are bargaining in good faith and have called the existing retiree plan “generous.”

The union did not agree to return all of its members to work because “we are not giving up,” spokesperson Jamie Fleming said. “This is not us accepting their offer.”

Getting some union concrete flowing again “can service those big infrastructure projects that need to happen,” said Brett Gallagher, a driver and member of the bargaining committee. “The Teamsters are doing all we can do to facilitate this moving forward. The roadblock is not with the union.”

With delays to projects ranging from apartment towers to the downtown convention center expansion to the West Seattle Bridge, the local construction industry has increasingly turned to nonunion companies and replacement workers

Developers and contractors who have faced project delays because of the strike still aren’t sure what the effects of the Teamsters offer would be.


“There is still a lot we don’t know about what this means, and we have more questions than answers right now,” said Bill Ketcham, general manager of the Seattle office of Turner Construction.

At the downtown convention-center expansion, delays could continue because the developer’s subcontractor has a contract with one of the suppliers the Teamsters didn’t name in their offer Monday, said Matt Griffin, principal at Pine Street Group. “So, we’re not sure what it means for the convention center,” he said.

No ‘ghost trucks’ for West Seattle Bridge concrete work

King County Executive Dow Constantine, who has been critical of the concrete suppliers, said the Teamsters’ offer “could help critical projects get back on track while negotiations for a three-year contract continue.” Constantine called on the suppliers to “return to the negotiating table, secure a fair and long-term contract, and get our region moving again.”

Sound Transit, whose contractors have turned to non-union concrete, welcomed the move but could not yet offer details of what the union’s move meant for its light-rail projects.

Still, the move could signal progress, Griffin and Ketcham said.

“People talking about going back to work and people worrying about the community is a step in the right direction,” Griffin said, adding later, “Obviously we have our project, but I worry about the people out of work, and I worry about the housing. We’re short on housing.”

“Is it the magnitude we need to get back to normal?” Ketcham said. “No, but it’s a step in the right direction.”