Members of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 302 are on strike, possibly affecting completion of the Salish Coast Elementary School. (Jeannie McMacken/Peninsula Daily News)

Members of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 302 are on strike, possibly affecting completion of the Salish Coast Elementary School. (Jeannie McMacken/Peninsula Daily News)

Strike could delay Salish Coast Elementary School’s opening day

PORT TOWNSEND — Superintendent John Polm plans to announce on Tuesday if a construction work stoppage will delay the opening of the new Salish Coast Elementary School on Grant Street.

Port Townsend school officials are considering contingency plans for opening day at the almost completed $28.1 million school.

A strike by Local 302 of the International Union of Operating Engineers in Western Washington called Tuesday has put some $4.8 million in public works projects on hold on the North Olympic Peninsula and could hold up the first day of school at the new facility.

Other schools in the district—Port Townsend High School, OCEAN and Blue Heron Middle School— will begin classes as scheduled on Sept. 4.

Polm said Friday that officials have been working on creative solutions.

“The district project manager, contractor, subcontractors, and district staff are working together to problem-solve and make alternate plans allowing for the school to open for students,” he said.

“Many contractors are working overtime to complete the portions of the project that they can address at this time.”

Polm said outside the building is bare ground, no sidewalks, and no roads or lanes for fire and emergency vehicles. Inside, teachers have not been able to set up their classrooms, and some minor interior work still needs to be completed. A good thorough cleaning also has yet to be done.

“We are working with the city of Port Townsend, the fire department, and health officials to get a temporary occupancy certificate so teachers can get in the building and prepare while the strike is going on,” Polm said.

“They will decide when the building is deemed safe.”

He expects to speak with city officials at on-site meeting Monday to discuss options.

Polm plans to make an announcement on Tuesday if there will be a delay in opening the Salish Coast building, and if classes will be held as scheduled at the school, or at some other alternative location. Start dates may be impacted for preschool and kindergarten students.

An informational public meeting is scheduled for Salish Coast families at 6 p.m Thursday at the auditorium at Port Townsend High School 1500 Van Ness St. School officials will provide the latest information at that time.

Salish Coast families also will be notified of school schedule changes through the SchoolMessenger automated calling and email system. Any family needing to update their contact information with the school district should email Salish Coast Elementary secretary LaTrecia Arthur.

On Tuesday, members of Local 302 went on strike in a labor dispute relating to wages, hours and working conditions. Crane operators, concrete workers, dirt workers, pavers, hoisting and materials handlers and heavy equipment operators walked off job sites in the Puget Sound region, from King county north to Whatcom county, on the Olympic peninsula, and in central Washington.

Once the IUOC Local 302 and Associated General Contracts come to a resolution, workers are expected to return to the job site to complete the remaining exterior work at the school.

A representative of Absher Construction Co. from Puyallup, which is in charge of the project, said they are about a week away from completion of the jobs left to do and said once workers return, they will be working multiple shifts to complete the project as soon as possible.


Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-3225 or at

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