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Workers at Regal Beloit in Valpo go on strike

Machinists Union Local 2018-represented workers have gone on strike over health insurance at Regal Beloit in Valparaiso.

More than 130 workers went on strike at Regal Beloit Manufacturing in Valparaiso Sunday over rising out-of-pocket health insurance costs, wages and other issues.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Union Local 2018 members, who are skilled trade members, voted overwhelmingly Friday to reject the company's contract offer.

“The main concern is health insurance,” Machinist Union Local 2018 Business Representative and lead negotiator David Gault said. “The raises our members have received the past two contracts don’t even begin to cover the costs of their premiums. The workers and their families are not moving forward — they’re moving backwards. And they’re simply tired of it.”

Regal Beloit Vice President–Business Development & Investor Relations Robert Cherry said the company had reached an agreement with union leaders that included annual pay increases of an unspecified amount.

"The union’s decision to strike after weeks of bargaining and reaching an agreement, which the union’s leadership agreed was fair, is disappointing," Cherry said. "We have implemented a contingency plan that will allow us to continue to provide our customers with the highest quality products. We hope the union will reconsider its decision and honor the new agreement that was reached. We value our Valparaiso associates and want to see them back to work as soon as possible."

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The Wisconsin-based company's workers in Valparaiso say they want "affordable health care, better wages, clear break times, and no changes to their current probationary period."

“IAMAW Local 2018 members at Regal are not asking for more than what they deserve,” Gault said. “And that’s fairness and the ability to keep their heads above water. They, along with their families, deserve better than the agreement Regal has put before them.”

Regal Beloit makes electric motors, mechanical and electrical motion controls and power generation products that are sold worldwide, including through its offices in Australia, Canada, Central America, China, Europe, India, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, South East Asia, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. Its products are used in a wide variety of applications, including "heating, ventilation, air conditioning, commercial refrigeration, food processing, pharmaceutical, chemical processing, material handling, medical, oil and gas, construction, manufacturing, power generation, agriculture and mining."

Regal Beloit's Valparaiso plant at 2300 Evans Ave. makes part bearings for the aerospace industry.

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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.