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Strike’s over, let the roadwork begin

By Joe Yovino

If you’re keeping score at home, it’s Union 1, Contractors 1/2.

The three-week construction strike in Illinois that shut down many road projects came to a merciful end Monday night. The deal must still be ratified by union members on Wednesday, but you might as well start fueling up the heavy machinery.

The new deal, which was reached after more than nine hours of talks, includes a 9.75 percent raise toward health care and benefits spanning the next three years (unions were asking for 15 percent over three years while contractors were pushing for 3.25 percent).

The agreement will let some 15,000 heavy equipment operators and road construction laborers get back to work. It’s also estimated by the Mid-America Regional Bargaining Association, the group representing contractors, that the strike has cost the region almost $150 million.

The work stoppage also threatened to pull the plug on major projects going on around Chicago, including an Interstate 94 project and a freeway resurfacing. Even though Illinois Tollway has a no-strike agreement with its workers and work was ongoing, the strike hampered materials getting to the sites and disposal of waste materials.

So now that the two sides are somewhat happy, the signs can go back up and work can proceed in earnest around Chicago’s busy freeways and tollways.

So if you’re keeping score at home, it’s Union 1, Contractors 1/2, Chicago motorists 0.

Joe Yovino is the Web editor at The Daily Reporter. He’s part of the “0” in the above-mentioned scoring line.

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