Concrete industry in the Northeast

Inland Concrete became a signatory company after a Teamsters Local 213 organizing drive in 1972. The company has plants in Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, and Prince George. Teamster members expect the company will be fairly busy this year too, but not as swamped as it’s been in years past. Temperatures drop to -40 degrees in the winter but that doesn’t stop concrete work. “It’s not fun, but it can be done,” said mixer/driver Ryan Scott.

He’s helped build the Fort St. John hospital, sports complex, and BCGEU building. One of the most interesting jobs took place in the 1990s which required driving a concrete truck onto a flatbed rail car so that concrete could be pumped over an embankment for bridge footings.

Batcher/dispatcher Cliff Folk, a 25-year Teamster member with 50 years of experience, is keeping up with the technological changes in the industry. “Seventy-year-olds can do this job,” he said.

He and his father arrived in Fort St. John in the 1960s when the town had mud streets, wooden sidewalks, and a hitching post outside the co-op. He was working at Inland Concrete when the Teamsters organized the site in 1972. “It was an old beater plant” at the time.

In some years, Folk said he’s been able to make $150,000. “Concrete is in demand. There are lots of [work] hours and pretty big bucks.”

But it’s tough to say how much work there will be in the years ahead, Folk said. “It’s feast or famine. There’s nothing going on and then everything hits the fan.”