Negotiations continue in construction strike

July 14, 2010 (CHICAGO) The International Union of Operating Engineers reports a tentative agreement with an association that represents smaller contractors.

More than 15,000 construction workers are off the job and more than 300 construction projects have been impacted by the strike, including the Eisenhower expressway. The lack of road work may make commuting a breeze for now, but if the strike drags on the resurfacing project could be delayed.

"I hope we won't get to that point. It's just really difficult to tell and see what will happen," said Marissa Kollias, IL Dept. of Transportation

The negotiations broke down over a disparity in benefits between the two unions and the Mid-America Regional Bargaining Association, which represents contractors on Monday. MARBA's spokeswoman says they will wait to negotiate with the unions on Monday unless the groups have a new offer.

"Until the unions come with a reasonable offer that is compatible in today's economy, there really is no reason to meet until then. If they can come to us with a better offer that we can handle in this economy, by all means, we will meet with them," said Lissa Druss Christman, MARBA

However, late Wednesday afternoon the International Union of Operating Engineers announced it and the Laborers District Council reached a tentative agreement with the Chicago Area Independent Contractors Association (CAICA). The agreement calls for annual increases of approximately 3.25-percent over the next three years.

The president of the operating engineers local issued a statement: "This tentative three-year contract with CAICA will protect the healthcare and benefits of the Unions' members and get hundreds of contractors back to work. There are about 1,300 small and medium sized contractors in the area that will likely be eligible to sign on to this agreement."

While there may be agreement with some smaller contractors, the negotiations between the unions and MARBA are described as far apart.

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