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Stalemate in Chicago Strike Delays Key Local Projects

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Talks between construction companies and 15,000 striking Chicago-area union workers are set to restart on July 19 after negotiations to end the nearly three-week-old stalemate failed to produce a resolution. The strike, which began June 29, is by Local 150 of the operating engineers’ union and the Laborers’ District Council of Chicago. Their three-year contracts’ expired on May 31. Workers seek a 15% wage hike over three years and a 5% increase in health benefit contributions to offset health-care costs rising 10% to 12% per year. The Mid-America Regional Bargaining Association, which represents contractor employers, originally offered a 3.25% hike over three years and a 1% increase in health-care benefits. Projects in and around Chicago continue to feel the pinch. The Illinois Dept. of Transportation reports that the strike has delayed nearly 300 jobs. Agency spokesman Josh Kauffman says scheduling of the affected projects will be re-evaluated when the strike is settled.

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