How a union strike left vacationing families stuck in Labor Day traffic

By ERIN SHANNON  | 
POLICY NOTES
|
Sep 15, 2017

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Key Findings:

  1. A strike planned by a truck-drivers union left thousands of vacationing families stuck in traffic over Labor Day weekend.
     
  2. In August, the peak construction month of a record construction boom, members of Teamsters Local 174 abandoned concrete trucks and left construction equipment running and unattended.
     
  3. The surprise walk-out delayed re-surfacing work on Interstate 90 at Snoqualmie Pass, ensuring a traffic nightmare on one of the busiest weekend of the year.
     
  4. The Teamsters make over $30 an hour on average, and union executives had already rejected a 12 percent pay raise.
     
  5. Union executives profit from strikes because each percentage increase in pay results in more dues money going to union bank accounts.
     
  6. Ironically, taxpayers ended up paying the union for the inconvenience of sitting in traffic, as strikes and delays increase road project costs.

Introduction

On Labor Day weekend, as we honored the achievements of American workers and their contribution to building the greatest nation on earth, families around the state planned their holiday celebrations.  Very often those plans included traveling for one last vacation before summer ended.

If those Labor Day plans included crossing over Snoqualmie Pass, however, Washington state Department of Transportation (DOT) noted that traffic was even slower than usual due to delayed road construction.

The uncompleted project that left thousands of drivers stuck in traffic was the rebuilding of bridge decks just west of the pass.  The project was supposed to be completed well before the Labor Day weekend, to make all travel lanes available to vacationing families.

Out of concern for the traveling public, DOT officials did not want to add construction slow-downs to the most heavily travelled pass on one of the most heavily travelled weekends of the year. 

Instead, a decision by union executives to call a strike of union concrete truck drivers caused exactly the traffic snarl officials had tried to avoid.  DOT says the delay caused by the strike is to blame for the unfinished road project and the resulting Labor Day traffic nightmare.

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