July 19, 2017
This past Sunday, Teamsters Local 174 members employed at O.M.A Construction voted unanimously in favor of a strike action – for the second time in their brief history as Teamsters. The first strike vote came in October of 2016, and led to a one-day strike on October 20, 2016.
On August 24, 2016, The National Labor Relations Board certified Local 174 as the representative of the group of drivers and mechanics after a long and drawn-out election certification process. The battle that began before they even became Teamsters has only gotten worse since then, as the group fights an Employer who has refused to give them a fair and equitable contract.
The fight reached its first peak in October of 2016 when the group held an Unfair Labor Practice strike at O.M.A. They braved near-monsoon conditions while holding picket lines in Seattle and Sumner. O.M.A vehicles in the Company’s lot sat empty for the day, costing their Employer more money with each minute they were not out earning revenue.
The strike, while brief, was enough to get O.M.A Construction owner Barry O’Young’s attention and bring him back to the bargaining table – but not for long. While he came back to the table to resolve the unfair labor practices, he was not willing to continue contract negotiations.
O’Young apparently has a short memory, as he quickly forgot about the money he lost while his employees were on strike. Progress in negotiations has been at a standstill, with the Company still refusing to pay the construction standard on private jobs in wages or pension, and in many other areas of the contract such as daily overtime.
“This Company and its owner Barry O’Young don’t seem to take our members seriously at all, and that makes it almost impossible to properly negotiate with them,” said Local 174 Director of Negotiations Patty Warren. “Barry doesn’t even come to the bargaining sessions himself. How are we supposed to get a deal if the one person with the actual authority to make decisions isn’t in the room?”
Warren’s frustration is shared by the employees of O.M.A, who have been waiting over a year for their first Teamster contract. “Barry has no respect for us,” said O.M.A. employee Ken Knipp. “That last strike cost him a lot of money. Now his actions are showing us that he just wants us to do it again.”
The group of O.M.A employees gathered at the Teamsters Local 174 Union Hall on Sunday July 16 to review a contract proposal from their Employer – a proposal so far below what would be considered acceptable that it was not even put to a vote.
Instead, the group voted on something else: an authorization to strike again. This vote came in loud and clear – a unanimous “YES” vote in favor of a strike.
“Last time, we went out on strike for a day to get Barry back to the table. This time, our goal isn’t just to get Barry to the table – it’s to get a contract,” said Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer Rick Hicks. “We are not going to sit here and let this Company disrespect us and our members like this.”
Ken Knipp agrees. “We’re angry,” he says of the employee group. “We’re tired of this. We’re not asking for the sun and the stars – just a fair contract that we can all live with. Hopefully this unanimous vote will show Barry that we’re serious, we’re standing together, and we aren’t afraid.”
Founded in 1909, Teamsters Local 174 represents 7,200 working men and women in the Seattle area. “Like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TeamstersLocal174.