Judge: Seattle concrete companies intentionally drove into striking workers at picket line

A King County Superior Court Judge has ruled in favor of striking concrete workers, who filed a lawsuit against the Seattle companies that attempted to block union members from protesting. 

According to Teamsters Local 174, five concrete companies— Gary Merlino Construction, Stoneway Concrete, Cadman Materials, Inc., Lehigh Cement and CalPortland — assaulted striking members and/or "blocked union members' constitutional right to protest." 

A judge also found that during the strike, there have been multiple instances "at concrete company sites where non-union drivers of trucks, leasing from or serving the companies, "have ‘charged’ into picketers thereby causing bodily injury and creating a significant danger to the picketers." 

The ruling stated that one truck driver "intentionally drove a truck against a picketer who was clearly standing in front of the truck," and that another driver for Cadman Materials, Inc. "drove a truck into the timed picket line, causing physical contact with picketers and causing injury."

Thousands of trade workers laid off, more to come following concrete worker strike

The fight for wage increases for concrete workers started three months ago, but as the strike continues, Washingtonians are seeing and feeling the effects it’s having. 

"It is reassuring to have the court affirm our legal right to peacefully picket, but the violence we have seen against our members is unfounded, egregious and frankly disgusting," said Brett Gallagher, a concrete mixer driver for CalPortland and a member of the Teamsters Local 174 Bargaining Committee. "We are out here standing up for good jobs in Seattle. We deserve healthcare coverage that will keep our families safe and healthy without driving us into financial straits. We will keep calling for a contract that will ensure good jobs remain in our community for everyone working in the construction industry, and the companies know they can’t keep trying to silence us through baseless legal threats."

The court also found that the companies Cadman, Merlino and Stoneway had "failed to fully comply with an earlier order to post signage to drivers and customers alerting them of the pickets, and an order to prevent trucks from charging through picketers as they perform their timed patrolling." 

The ruling comes after Teamster's Local 174 reached "good faith" agreements with two companies, as the concrete strike enters its fifth month.

The offer to return to work at these companies was in good faith and does not mean a new contract agreement has been reached.

Representatives of Teamster’s Local 174, which represents around 330 workers, say Cadman’s Seattle facility and Salmon Bay Sand & Gravel can use union drivers and haul concrete to projects of the companies' choosing.

The agreement with Cadman only affects the company’s Seattle plant but is not a contract.

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