Picket of I-90 contractor resolved

  • A brief strike at an I-90 bridge near Des Plaines was resolved.

      A brief strike at an I-90 bridge near Des Plaines was resolved. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer, August 2016

 
 

A brief strike Thursday night at a construction site on the Jane Addams Tollway in Des Plaines orchestrated by a tollway board member has ended.

International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 members have resolved a dispute with a tollway contractor, Stalworth Underground, that resulted in a picket on the I-90 bridge over Oakton near Des Plaines.

Stalworth owed the union more than $40,000 from a grievance settlement, which led to the action, said James Sweeney, Local 150 president and a tollway director.

The massive rebuild and widening of I-90 between Elgin and O'Hare International Airport is on a tight time schedule and is supposed to wrap up at the end of 2016.

The check for the grievance settlement was delivered Friday morning. "All pickets are down and will remain so," Local 150 spokesman Ed Maher said.

Tollway officials had no comment.

The picket isn't the first salvo involving the tollway since a new batch of directors appointed by Gov. Bruce Rauner voted in 2015 to nix a 21-year agreement requiring contractors to hire unions in exchange for guarantees of no strikes or walkouts.

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Rauner said the move would save money, but Sweeney called it an attempt to destroy unions.

In May, a large inflatable rat dubbed "Scabby" materialized outside the tollway offices in Downers Grove as a Local 150 protest against the tollway hiring a nonunion landscaper.

Unions were previously prohibited from picketing of tollway contractors but repealing the project labor agreement gives them that authority, officials said. The union had made "good-faith efforts" to collect the settlement for 15 months without success, Sweeney said.

The union also picketed Stalworth's offices in Chicago.

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