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Labor strike halts projects countywide
As of Aug. 30, the strike is still ongoing.


The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 302 went on strike starting Aug. 21 after union members failed to reach a deal with contractors. The strike affects construction projects across Western Washington. Work done by crane operators, concrete pumpers, pavers, dirt workers, material hoisters and other heavy machine operators have stopped.
The strike has affected renovations throughout Snohomish County. Since many pavers are union members, almost all work on road and sidewalk repair countywide could possibly stop as well.
In Snohomish, sitting idle are the Fourth Street storm drainage, gutter, curb and overlay improvements, which stretch from Avenue E to Maple Avenue.
The same thing has happened to the Combined Sewer Overflow Trunkline Project and construction on Avenue A, which was set to begin the week of Aug. 27 and close sections of the roadway on Sept. 4. While asphalt layers are striking, the city will cover problematic areas with packed gravel or steel plates, said Andy Sics, a project engineer for the city.
In Everett, many of the bigger projects the city wanted done in the nicer weather are on hold.
Work on the Grand Avenue Park Bridge has stopped. The work on the actual bridge stopped earlier in August, and a contractor stopped work on non-essential elements like the aesthetic upgrades on the park. The restoration of Smith Island and its estuary through a system of new dikes has also halted. 
Additionally, if the strike is still on in the first week September, work regarding the Wetmore Emergency Storm Water Project will be put on hold, said city public works spokeswoman Kathleen Baxter.
The Legion Golf Course Stormwater Detention project and the North Wetmore Stormwater Separation project are currently working because the main building firm is non-union, but subcontractors who work in asphalt, concrete or gravel may be union and could force the operation to shut down, Baxter said.
Cleanup efforts around the former Everett Smelter have come to a standstill.
“Our contractor, Titan Earthworks, is among the construction firms affected by the strike. Our project is suspended until the operating engineers return to work,” Larry Altose, a spokesman for the state Department of Ecology, said last week. Ecology is in charge of the arsenic and lead removal effort.
As of Aug. 30, the strike is still ongoing.
On Aug. 28, Darren Konopaski, Local 302’s International Vice President and Business Manager, said in an email: “We met today with the employers for the second time since the strike began. Unfortunately, there was no change from the employer’s position yesterday. This is a serious situation and we are committed to coming to a resolution that will be approved by the membership. To that end, we remain ready and available day or night.”
It was unclear when the union and contractors will continue their negotiations.
The union said last week that it will try to negotiate with individual contractors instead of all at once. A few individual negotiations are now completed.

  

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