Carpenters striking for better pay

REDMOND, Wash. — Hundreds of carpenters started picketing outside construction sites Thursday in a strike that could bring work around the Puget Sound area to a standstill.

Workers in the Northwest Carpenters Union said what they want is simple: better pay.

The strike could affect several large-scale projects including ones on Microsoft campuses in Redmond and Sammamish. The new Bellevue Plaza could be affected as well.

The labor action essentially kicked off on Saturday when the union voted on an agreement with the Associated General Contractors. Union members decided to go on strike.

“Washington state is a difficult state to live in, as is the world. The gap becomes increasingly wide between ultra-rich and workers. Washington state is one of the least affordable states in the nation when it comes to childcare and housing, and our members are not exempt from that, they have all of the expense that everyone else has,” Evelyn Shapiro, principal officer of the Northwest Carpenters Union said.

The union’s contract expired Wednesday. In the proposed agreement, there was a 20.4% total package increase over five years. It also included pay increases retroactive June 1 and increased employer contributions to health care and pension funds.