Seattle-area light rail projects delayed by concrete strike

Completion dates in 2023, 2024 at risk; some workers laid off

A test light rail train stops at Sound Transit’s Northgate station in January 2021. The agency’s four light rail expansion projects are facing delays due to a concrete strike . (Sound Transit)

SEATTLE — A concrete workers’ strike is jeopardizing the schedule for Sound Transit light rail projects, according to the agency’s CEO.

Reports from KIRO Radio that CEO Peter Rogoff told the Sound Transit board that the completion dates for the four ongoing streetcar expansion projects – to Lynnwood, Bellevue, Redmond and Federal Way – “are increasingly uncertain” . Extensions are expected to open in 2023 and 2024.

More than 300 Teamsters concrete workers went on strike Dec. 3 against six concrete suppliers, seeking better pay and benefits. Suppliers have offered a 17% raise over three years as well as improved medical benefits, but workers say this is still well below the market rate.

Rogoff said the projects missed delivery of more than 26,000 cubic meters of concrete. “That’s the equivalent of over 2,600 truckloads, or, for perspective, a line of concrete trucks running back-to-back for over 17 miles.” Another 650 deliveries are planned in the next two weeks. Contractors have laid off about 230 workers because of the strike so far, Rogoff said, and another 160 jobs are at risk.

The Seattle Times reports that King County, which includes Seattle, tried to help end the strike by soliciting offers from concrete companies to become its exclusive suppliers for at least three years – but they must have a union contract in place with their workers.

Jose P. Rogers