Concrete strike may delay Lynnwood Link rail opening
SNOHOMISH COUNTY — A concrete delivery drivers strike, now in its fifth month, has wedged an interruption in constructing the Lynnwood Light Link Rail line among multiple others.
The labor dispute is between King County concrete suppliers and delivery drivers represented by Teamsters Local 174.
On Friday, April 8, the Local 174 gave an unconditional offer to let workers go back
to work for the concrete companies while strike negotiations are ongoing.
Sound Transit is currently building its northbound rail line extension to Lynnwood. The agency has its opening scheduled for 2024.
A trickle of concrete began being delivered in March as the Teamsters allowed certain public projects to go forward, Sound Transit reported.
“I can’t tell you everything we promised for 2023, 2024 can be delivered by 2023, 2024,” Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff told Community Transit’s board of directors April 7.
It’s difficult to precisely calculate the length of the delay, said John Gallagher, a Sound Transit spokesman, in an interview conducted prior to the local union letting workers go back to work.
“There’s going to be a ripple effect, and once the strike ends there’s going to be a lot of pent-up demand for concrete,” Gallagher said.
There is no easy workaround, either. Mixed concrete has to be sourced locally as it has a short lasting period in the truck.
The slowdown also means other tradespeople waiting for the concrete pours to be made are being interrupted from doing their own work, Gallagher noted.
The strike began Dec. 3, and is currently in mediation.
A key piece of negations is to maintaining worker health care benefits after retirement. Concrete workers often retire before age 65 because of the physical demands of the job.
Negotiations are being done collectively between the union and a group of concrete companies. They last met Wednesday, April 6 with a mediator, a media representative for Local 174 said.
Sound Transit continues to make headway on preparing to expand the Light Link rail system north to Everett. It’s currently in the design phase.
The transit agency hopes to reach Southwest Everett by 2037, and Everett Station in downtown by 2041, under its latest timelines.
Construction for Everett may begin in 2030.
The concrete delay has no material impact to Everett’s timeline, Gallagher said.
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