Union industrial engineers reject new contract after weeks of strike and delays in road construction

Union members striking at three building materials manufacturers Sunday voted against a new contract that could have ended a protracted hiatus in Chicago-area road projects that has lasted more than six weeks.

About 300 members of Local 150 of the International Union of Operating Engineers made their first appearance on June 7 against three companies that collectively operate 35 quarries. These companies – Lehigh Hanson, Vulcan Materials and Lafarge Holcim – produce the sand, gravel and crushed stone needed for asphalt, concrete and other construction materials.

The companies did not respond to requests for comment Sunday afternoon.

The union voted against a deal that would have increased wages by 14% over three years, according to a press release from the Chicago Area Aggregate Producers Association on Sunday. It also included 100 percent coverage of employees’ health insurance premiums, as well as funding for a performance-related retirement plan, retirement funds and medical savings plans for retirees, CAAPA said in a statement.

Ed Maher, Local 150’s communications director, said the strike was never about pay but about unilateral changes the company made on other issues, such as: B. Leisure time and procedures for exposure to COVID-19. The union has also lodged complaints with the National Labor Relations Board over alleged unfair labor practices by the companies.

“We look forward to meaningful dialogue this week,” Maher said on Sunday.

According to a strike update on Local 150’s website, the union voted “an overwhelming majority” to reject the contract offer.

The companies that negotiated as members of the CAAPA said they had made a generous offer and were willing to negotiate with the union.

“We were at the negotiating table 17 times, in addition to many other phone calls and private meetings,” the association said in a statement. “We remain committed to serving our customers and limiting disruption to infrastructure projects to the best of our ability.”

The strike forced prolonged delays on many Chicago-area road renewal projects and other projects, including the Interstate 55 and Weber Road interchanges and the Interstate 80 bridge in Joliet. The work stoppage may also have suspended new contracts that had already been approved.

Maher said the six-week strike was the employers’ fault and could have ended weeks ago if they had tried to negotiate in good faith. Instead, those negotiations would abruptly walk out of session and not make themselves available to speak for days, if not weeks, he said.

“Prior to making that final offer today, they emailed a final offer last week, but it was so riddled with language errors – which we had already agreed to – that we had to spend an extra week cleaning it up,” said Maher.

“If you look back, we spent a week correcting their offer, they disappeared from the table and just kept playing. It is plain arrogance and totally inappropriate.”

Comments are closed.