Union strike stops North Olympic Peninsula public works projects

An estimated $4.8 million in public works projects in Clallam and Jefferson counties came to a halt Tuesday in the first day of a strike by Local 302 of the International Union of Operating Engineers in Western Washington.

Most of the impact was felt in Port Angeles and unincorporated Clallam County.

But about $100,000 in paving projects in Port Townsend were put on hold, City Manager David Timmons said. Timmons had no additional information about the projects readily available on Tuesday.

And Eric Kuzma, Jefferson County assistant public works director, said the strike has potential impact on the Salmon Creek Bridge and Memorial Field lighting projects but nothing that contractors are aware of at this time.

The strike will not affect the Lake Crescent Highway 101 project, where paving has been completed for this year and the project is moving into installment of guardrails, Olympic National Park spokeswoman Penny Wagner said.

A second tentative Western Washington Master Labor Agreement was rejected by a majority of Local 302 members who voted according to ballots counted Tuesday, prompting the work action that became effective at 6 a.m. Tuesday, according to the union’s website at www.iuoe302.org.

IUOE Local 302 Business Agent George Garten said Tuesday he was unauthorized to comment about the contract.

The rejection halted $3 million in road projects in Port Angeles and an $827,000, one-day paving project in Forks that was scheduled to take place today.

The strike, which had a major impact in Seattle from the shutdown of construction cranes throughout the city, also affected projects in unincorporated Clallam County, halting $949,000 in culvert and guardrail replacement work.

Port Angeles city officials were estimating the strike could last one to three weeks.

Sequim City Manager Charlie Bush, who was out of town Tuesday, said in a telephone interview that he was unaware of any projects that were affected by the strike.

Sequim Public Works Director David Garlington was unavailable for comment late Tuesday afternoon.

Here’s a rundown of Clallam County projects affected:

Port Angeles

The strike meant 24-30 workers were not on the job at three work sites, City Engineer Teresa Reed-Jennings said.

The affected projects are Craig Avenue reconstruction, being repaired following a water-main break, contract amount $86,657; 10th Street reconstruction, contract amount $2,353,219; and Whidby Avenue water main replacement, contract amount $478,226.

The three streets will be open to traffic during the construction delay.

Drivers are urged to use caution driving through the work zones and to observe the 20 mph speed limit.

“People still need to go slow and be aware it’s a construction site,” Reed-Jennings said.

“They need to pretend there are people there and go slowly.”

Unincorporated Clallam County

The tree projects are in the Port Angeles area, county Engineer Ross Tyler said.

They are the West Bluff Drive culvert replacement, contract value $206,000; Marsden Road-Pierce Road culvert replacement, contract value $285,000; guardrail replacement by contract, various locations, $458,000.

The strike’s impact so far is “pretty minimal,” Tyler said.

But the period for in-water work that can be done on the Marsden Road-Pierce Road culvert replacement project closes Sept. 15 to protect migrating salmon.

Forks

Paving of Elderberry Avenue and A Street was scheduled for today that affects a dozen households and a trailer court in Forks, City Attorney-Planner Rod Fleck said.

The project area includes a critical school route, and residents who live in the paving zone were asked to park elsewhere for the day.

The strike nullifies about 30 notices sent to residents warning them that the project was imminent and their neighborhood was being shut down, Fleck said.

So the timing couldn’t have been worse.

“We’re kind of like, come on guys, it’s a one-day project,” Fleck said.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

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