Chesterton Tribune

Local 150 strike settled one day after town takes bull by the horns

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It took Operating Engineers Local 150 and the contractors groups less than 48 hours after the Town of Chesterton said, in effect, “Enough of this nolse,” to settle the strike.

Late on Tuesday—“after nearly six hours of negotiations”—Local 150 announced tentative agreements with all three contractors groups: the Northwest Indiana Contractors Association, representing building construction employers in the region; the Four County Highway Contractors Group, whose membership includes the former general contractor for the Downtown utility project, Rieth-Riley; and the Indiana Constructors Association.

The details of those agreements were not released.

“Members working under these agreements will be able to return to work as soon as their employers contact them to come back,” Local 150 said. “A formal ratification meeting date will be set in the near future for members to formally vote on the proposals.”

“These settlements will allow work to resume immediately on all road, bridge, highway, building, and other construction projects across 14 counties that have been affected by the strike,” Local 150 noted.

“We are very pleased to have come to terms that will put everyone back to work,” Local 150 President-Business Manager James Sweeney said. “We look forward to continuing the positive partnership we have with our contractors into the future. Going on a strike is never a simple decision, but through their solidarity, the members of Local 150 protected benefits that took decades to achieve. I am proud of the strength that they showed through this trying time for themselves and their families.”

Local 150 called the strike on June 9. Initially only members employed by firms represented by the Northwest Indiana Contractors Association walked off but on June 13 the picket line was extended to all asphalt plants in the region.

Then everything in the region stopped dead and the Town of Chesterton was left with a couple of blocks of South Calumet Road in need only of paving in order to close the book on the Downtown utility project.

Two weeks later, at 8 a.m. Monday, the Utility Service Board—impatient with a lack of progress in negotiations, with no end in sight to the strike and Downtown businesses withering on the vine—cut the Gordian knot, by voting to declare the Downtown an emergency, then to terminate Rieth-Riley’s contract, and finally to retain the services of Rock Solid Paving & Excavating of St. John.

Within minutes of those votes, Rock Solid was laying asphalt.

Today Rock Solid was paving the alley immediately south of Datagraphic Printing & Copying and grinding the tie-in points at the Norfolk Southern grade-crossing, Broadway, and West Indiana Ave., Town Engineer Mark O’Dell told the Chesterton Tribune. On Thursday Rock Solid will lay the final surface coat of asphalt. On Friday thermo-plastic striping will be applied to the roadway.

“Sometime in the afternoon” South Cal should be re-opened to traffic, O’Dell said.


Posted 6/29/2011




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