Workers walk off in stink over toilets
All back on hospital job this morning
Originally published June 23, 2010 at 10:11 a.m., updated June 24, 2010 at 8 a.m.
This story previously incorrectly stated the types of workers who walked off the job. That has been corrected in this version.
WENATCHEE — About 90 union workers returned to work this morning after walking off the construction job at Central Washington Hospital on Tuesday, after complaining that some portable toilets at the site were dirty.
Gene Hodge, project manager for general contractor M.A. Mortenson Co., said all scheduled workers were on the job this morning. “Most of the issues were being resolved as they were walking out yesterday,” he said. Efforts included cleaning of the toilets and the addition of new ones.
Hodge had said Tuesday that workers’ concerns centered on the quantity and condition of the toilets. “They said there were a couple that were dirty and one that was out of toilet paper,” he said.
Hodge said the workers, including plumbers, pipefitters sheet-metal workers and electricians, walked off the job between 12:30 and 1 p.m., about the same time that employees of Apple Valley Pumping were cleaning the portable toilets and bringing in more.
Hodge said it is “not very common” for workers to walk off a job site because of toilet concerns. He said he had not experienced it in the seven years he has been in the business.
The walkout left about 130 workers still on the job, Hodge said. He added that the walkout had no impact on the construction project because the workers had only about two hours remaining in their shift.
A union official declined to comment Tuesday.
Steve Gregg, owner of Apple Valley Pumping, said he thinks the problem came as his employees shifted from five portable toilets that could be lifted by a crane, which was recently dismantled, to five toilets that fit inside elevators. “I think the issue was that people on the higher floors had to come down to use the toilets,” Gregg said.
He said his company services the 24 toilets that are usually at the job site three times a week.
The multi-million-dollar construction project is adding 188,000 square feet of space in a five-story tower. The project began in late August and is expected to be completed in May 2011.
Dee Riggs: 664-7147
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