IUOE boss to striking members: Go away

A bitter dispute between concrete workers and their union leaders is threatening to bring construction projects all over the Seattle-area region to a grinding halt. The workers hit the picket line instead of pumping concrete for a one-day strike on Friday, which is typically one of their busiest days of the week.

And if things don't get smoothed out soon, it is probable that several projects in the region will come to a stop The workers are in disagreement with their union leaders over their new proposed contract. They say the new contract limits their choices when it comes to benefits.

But union leaders say the proposal offers a lot, and say workers can either take it or leave it. "We like that contract better. We think it is a dramatic improvement," said David Groves, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 302 union leader. "Some of these guys may think it's not a dramatic improvement. That is their right. They may work for a non-union company."

As a result of the dispute, some of the workers are no longer members of the union. This could cause big problems when return to work at union work sites on Monday.

"If non-union members show up on union job site, the basic principle is, they walk off. That affects every trade, laborers, carpenters. It could affect production. Every union trade at every union job site is going to stop production," said Chad MacDonald, a union worker.

It could possibly shut down projects all over town.

"That's their choice. They can be nonunion. Nobody's forcing them to stay members of this union," Groves said.

But union workers say they don't want to take it or leave it; they want change.

"We want the voices to be heard. We are the majority, we are the union," MacDonald said.

The two sides are negotiating, but so far, there is no solution in sight.


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