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Striking workers say Regal Beloit stonewalling after third week; Visclosky to attend rally Friday

Machinists Union Local 2018-represented workers have been striking for three weeks at Regal Beloit over wages and health care benefits.

More than 130 striking Regal Beloit workers in Valparaiso said the company is stonewalling negotiations as they seek better wages and affordable health insurance.

International Association of Machinists Local 2018 presented the company a contract offer Wednesday to end a strike that started nearly three weeks ago, but the company has not accepted it.

“We found out quite early that Regal wasn’t interested in providing a fair and equitable contract as far as wages and health insurance are concerned,” lead negotiator and IAM Local 2018 Business Representative David Gault said. “The cost share that these employees are paying is tremendous. It’s a heavy weight on their shoulders to provide health care to their families. Their wages have been eaten up by increased insurance costs for the past two contracts. We tried to negotiate a fair wage in return, but the company is refusing to bargain in good faith.”

A rally is planned at 1:30 p.m. Friday at the Regal Beloit at 2300 Evans Ave., and U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky will be in attendance, his office confirmed.

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Robert Cherry, Regal Beloit vice president for business development and investor relations, previously has said the company had offered pay raises and hoped to bring workers back to the job as soon as possible.

"On July 15, 2019, we met with IAMAW Local 2018, and we disagree with their characterization of that meeting," he said. "We prefer that the parties work through the collective bargaining process. We have implemented a contingency plan that will allow us to continue to provide our customers with the highest quality products."

The company's Valparaiso plant makes part bearings for the aerospace industry, including for helicopters for the U.S. military.

“Our members have shown great courage and determination against an employer that is attempting to break their spirit, while pocketing millions of dollars in profits earned on the workers’ backs,” IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Steve Galloway said. “These workers aren’t just fighting for their own survival. The way that Regal is trying to force huge, permanent concessions has implications for every working person in America. It’s straight out of the corporate playbook. And everywhere around the world, workers have had enough. They’re getting bolder. And they’re standing up. The Fighting Machinists of IAM Local 2018 have our continued full support.”

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.