Concrete truck drivers halt NYC construction

By Richard High04 July 2008

Hundreds of construction sites in New York City, US ground to a halt on Tuesday as over 400 concrete mixer truck drivers mounted a surprise strike over pay and working conditions, according to local media reports.

The unexpected strike, which is expected to continue until early next week, brought many high profile projects, including the Freedom Tower, the Second Avenue subway, the new Yankee Stadium, Citi Field - the ballpark that will replace Shea Stadium - to a standstill.

The driver's union, Local 282 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, had been in negotiation with the city's concrete companies, said the report, and those negotiations were thought to be nearing completion.

The two sides were locked in "intense" discussions until 12.30 am Tuesday, but the union informed the concrete companies that it was walking out. The contract previous expired at 12.01 am Tuesday.

Bruce Levine, the lead lawyer for the union, said in a statement, "Teamsters Local 282 regrets that it was unable to reach an agreement. Local 282 is particularly disappointed because in the past month, it has succeeded in reaching innovative, far-reaching and fair agreements with hundreds of employers that handle demolition as well as lumber, steel and other non-concrete building materials."

Non-unionised sites appear to be unaffected by the strike. Work continued at some unionised sites where concrete had already been poured, or was not needed.

Under the expired contract drivers earned US$ 33.11 an hour, rising to US$ 59.01 when health insurance, pension contributions and other benefits are included.

The union had demanded raises of US$ 5 an hour (+6%). This was apparently then reduced to US$ 3.50 and it was at this point negotiations broke down, although both sides declined to say why.

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