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August 20, 2013 at 3:39 PM

Longshoremen’s union pickets at Highway 99 tunneling site

Longshoreman picketing the Highway 99 project team's contract block an entrance to Port of Seattle's Terminal 46 (Alexa Vaughn/The Seattle Times)

Longshoremen upset about their contract with Highway 99 project managers block an entrance to Port of Seattle’s Terminal 46. (Alexa Vaughn/The Seattle Times)

The longshoremen’s union began what may be the first of many days of picketing outside the Highway 99 tunneling site near Port of Seattle’s Terminal 46 today.

The group of about 30 International Longshore and Warehouse Union members who showed up at 6 a.m. says they’ll keep coming back to picket all day until the Seattle Tunnel Partners contracting team negotiates with them again over four tunnel-work positions they want back. Picketers with signs reading ” STP lied to the ILWU” say a contract with the tunneling project managers initially seemed to dedicate those jobs to its union workers.

“We’ve been negotiating with them since 2011 and now we’ve got this contract,” said Chuck Cepeda, a labor relations spokesman for the union. “We’ll stop when they finally honor the contract.”

Back in April, the union and the tunneling project managers signed a contract saying that longshoremen would be employed to help load dirt excavated from the tunnel onto barges. But in July, an arbitrator ruled that the jobs are covered by the tunnel’s broader project labor agreement.

That means the work has gone to building-trade workers instead, a move tunnel project managers say will save them millions during boring machine Bertha’s 14-month dig beneath downtown Seattle.

The union picketing zone, marked with its own stop signs, prompted a few trucks to use another entrance to the terminal, but members aren’t doing anything else to obstruct tunnel work and don’t plan to, Cepada said. He also said that right now, there’s no talk of suing the tunneling project management team either.

“We plan to stay here until they come back to the table to negotiate,” Cepada said.

0 Comments | Topics: bertha, highway 99, Highway 99 tunnel

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