It's the Chicago Way on full display.
Construction workers are preparing to strike as soon as Thursday, which would bring road-building projects such as the repaving of the Eisenhower Expressway to a standstill.While unemployment in some parts of Chicago is 20% or more, these spoiled children what what they've got and more and damn if they're going to pay a nickel more for their lavish health care plans. The private sector is paying through the nose and these ingrates laugh and make threats.
Contracts covering 15,000 Chicago-area heavy equipment operators and laborers expired June 1, but the two sides kept working in hopes of reaching a new agreement.
Talks broke down Monday, according to Local 150 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, the heavy-equipment operators’ union.
Negotiations are playing out during one of the worst recessions ever in the construction industry, with unemployment topping 20% and construction companies reeling financially.
Construction already is behind this season as funding from the state’s five-year capital bill dribbles out.
A strike would delay projects further, forcing crews to race to complete jobs before winter hits.
Employers are seeking to corral their costs, while workers are trying to maintain benefit levels, particularly health care.
Companies have offered a 1% increase in overall wages and benefits over the next three years, and workers are seeking 5%, a source familiar with negotiations said.
“We’re not seeking to unrealistically increase wages in this difficult economic climate,” says James Connolly, business manager for the Laborers’ District Council of Chicago. “But what they have come to the table with represents a significant cut to our members and jeopardizes the stability of our fringe benefit funds. And we will not settle for that.”
Tom Nordeen, chairman of the Mid-America Regional Bargaining Assn., which is representing the companies, said, "Despite the economic conditions, the locals of the Chicagoland region are asking for significant raises well in excess of cost-of-living and a continuation of their traditional rich health and retirement plans."
They wonder why people hold these thugs in such contempt.
H/T Organized Exploitation.