Notice something strange around here lately? Turn off the NPR for a moment and take a listen. You hear that? It's... silence. There's no clanging, no clacking, no banging, and (blissfully) no jackhammering thanks to an ongoing strike by the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 302 over a dispute over a new union contract with the Associated General Contractors of Washington.
The strike started last Tuesday and impacts an array of construction workers, including engineers, crane operators, mechanics, surveyors, concrete pumpers, pavers, hoisting and materials handlers, and other heavy equipment operators on job sites around the region, including King and Whatcom Counties, the Olympic Peninsula, and Central Washington. Most importantly, it also impacts The Stranger World Headquarters, which happens to be right next door to a massive and currently quiet construction site. It feels like a Sunday around here and it is amazing.
Local 302 members declined to talk to The Stranger as we crossed the picket line to enter our office, but, in a statement, union leader Daren Konopaski said, “After months of negotiations our members voted down two tentative contract offers and have elected to withhold our labor and picket job sites until a more agreeable offer is presented."
According to the Seattle Times, earlier this month, the union rejected a tentative deal that included, a "15.9 percent pay increase across the board over three years, as well as a 13 percent increase in fringe benefits such as health and welfare and pension pay." This was after an offer for a 14.9 percent pay rise and 9.2 percent fringe benefit increase over three years was rejected by almost two-thirds of union members in July. Union workers, according to the Times, currently make $37.70 to $43.13 an hour in base pay.