Schenectady County

Concrete haulers strike

Concrete truck drivers went on strike Wednesday morning, throwing a wrench in the Capital Region’s c
Teamsters Local 294 members Dennis Druziak of Amsterdam, left, and Mark Sheldrick of Schenectady picket Wednesday in front of the entrance to Cranesville Block Company in Glenville.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Teamsters Local 294 members Dennis Druziak of Amsterdam, left, and Mark Sheldrick of Schenectady picket Wednesday in front of the entrance to Cranesville Block Company in Glenville.

Concrete truck drivers went on strike Wednesday morning, throwing a wrench in the Capital Region’s construction business as it kicks into high gear.

Nine days after their four-year contract expired, about 100 members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 294 struck for the first time since 2000. The strike, which hinges on wage and pension contribution issues, threatens to hamper work on everything from home foundations to swimming pools.

“Everything that has to do with concrete is just shut down,” said Peter Goesinya, a Cranesville Block Co. driver and union representative.

Goesinya and three other drivers were picketing outside a Cranesville yard lined with old concrete trucks in Glenville.

The Amsterdam-based Cranesville also has operations in Albany, but concrete drivers at its headquarters are not organized.

Other businesses directly impacted by the strike include Clemente Latham Concrete in Albany and Bonded Concrete in Watervliet.

“It is having an impact, from day one,” said Pam Krison, executive officer of the Capital Region Builders and Remodelers Association, an Albany trade organization. She said the strike forced one Saratoga County home builder to contract with an alternative concrete supplier, while a remodeler made his employees hand-mix concrete for a home addition in Clifton Park.

The Teamsters first rejected a contract proposal July 1. Union and management representatives met Monday, but talks stalled, according to Local 294 President John Bulgaro.

“Certainly, [the strike] is going to be reflected in the building community, but that’s not our primary concern,” Bulgaro said.

The strike comes during the peak summer building season and at a time when the construction industry is reeling from the nation’s economic downturn and housing slump. But drivers said they need to take drastic actions to address rising energy and food prices.

“We’re one of the lowest-paid trades, but all we’re asking for is for them is to negotiate in good faith. And throwing dimes on the table won’t do it,” said Goesinya.

He said inflationary pressures are making annual raises around 5 percent necessary, though Bulgaro would not specify the size of wage increases the union is pursuing.

Cranesville President John Tesiero Jr. said he has about 20 drivers on strike. Although they are delaying shipments, he said, “they’re good people” with a right to strike.

“The current strike has not had a significant impact on our ongoing projects,” said Mark Breslin, vice president and general manager of the Turner Construction Co. in Albany. “Provided that the strike is quickly resolved, we would not see any significant impacts to our future projects.”

Bulgaro said no more negotiations are planned for a three-year pact favored by the union.

Local 294’s strike is not connected to the strike Teamster concrete drivers in New York City launched before the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

In May, the 210 Local 294 members at Sysco Food Services of Albany narrowly averted a strike. Those Teamster warehouse workers and truck drivers approved a three-year contract hours before they were slated to walk out of the Halfmoon plant.

Negotiations for that pact were hung up more over health care issues than wages.

Categories: Schenectady County

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