Case involving Seattle concrete mixer drivers’ strike being heard by SCOTUS

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court of the United States could make a major decision affecting labor and union rights in a case involving a strike by concrete mixer drivers in the Seattle area.

The issue is what happened to the concrete when the mixer drivers went on strike in 2017. Some of it was loaded into trucks and delivered on early runs, but when the time of the strike came around, other drivers with trucks full of cement drove back to company headquarters and walked off the job, according to the SCOTUS blog.

Though the trucks were left running to prevent the cement from hardening inside the trucks’ drums, the drivers’ employer, Glacier Northwest, was unable to deliver all of the concrete during the drivers’ strike, and some of it hardened and had to be thrown away.

Glacier filed a lawsuit, saying the union should pay for damages because the Teamsters chose to begin the strike after the trucks were loaded with cement, thus committing sabotage.

Glacier also sued the National Relations Labor Board for damages. The NLRB determines whether a union operated within the bounds of the law.

The case, Glacier Northwest v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local Union 174, is being heard by the court on Tuesday.

The court’s decision could create new rules or challenges for workers who want to organize and also have an impact on the NLRB and its ability to protect union actions.

Previous coverage:

>> Striking concrete mixer drivers offer to return to several Seattle-area projects

>> Despite truce in concrete strike, drivers aren’t called back to work

>> Concrete mixer drivers ratify new contract after over a year of negotiations