Work stoppage halts Highway 12 projects

Work along U.S. Highway 12 at two worksites — west of Montesano and near McCleary — has been interrupted by a heavy construction equipment operators union strike.

The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 302 stopped work in Western Washington after its members voted against contract offers.

At the site outside Montesano, work has stopped completely. Farther east near McCleary, some work is being done but the heavy equipment work has stopped, according to the state Department of Transportation.

Thursday morning, six men were at the Montesano site holding picket signs. They did not comment on the stoppage. The rest of the work zone was quiet.

The state Department of Transportation is replacing a fish culvert under U.S. 12 that is restricting fish passage with a “220-foot-long concrete box structure that will open (almost) 2 miles of potential fish habitat,” according to a news release.

Calls and messages to the union’s business agent were not returned.

“Local 302 is currently involved in a labor dispute relating to our wages, hours, and working conditions,” a release from Daren Konopaski, the union’s international vice president and business manager, states.

Claudia Bingham Baker, Olympic region communications manager for the state DOT says worksites across the state are affected.

“The crane (at the site outside Montesano) that was used to move pieces of the culvert around (was moved) from the site,” she said. The operator moved the crane to honor the strike.

“DOT is just one of many employers affected by this work stoppage,” she said. “We will monitor the situation and see what happens.

There was no word on when work at the site or others across the state would resume.