VALPARAISO, Ind. — Chanting “2-4-6-8 why won’t you negotiate?” some 150 members of International Association of Machinists Local 2018 and their supporters rallied outside the Regal Beloit factory here Aug. 2.
The unionists went on strike June 30, rejecting company demands for a contract that sharply increased workers’ health insurance costs. The unionists also want wage increases and clear break times, instead of that being arbitrarily decided by the bosses each day.
Workers at the plant manufacture high tolerance bearings for helicopters and airplanes.
“They have been bragging that they have had the best sales ever in the history of the company and then they come back offering a 36 cents an hour raise,” Diane Brandenburg, who has worked at the plant for 43 years, told the Militant. “A lot of older workers retired over the last few years. We have more younger workers and they have inspired us to strike.”
The event included supporters from around northwest Indiana and from the Chicago metropolitan area. “I’m here to support my union brothers and sisters,” said Rebeca Christie, a member of United Steelworkers Local 6687. “I am missing four hours of work to be here but it is worth it.” Retired Steelworker Ken Yatsko added, “You mess with one worker, you mess with all workers.”
The workers keep up a picket line 24 hours per day, seven days a week.