Fox Valley Labor News
Thursday, March 2, 2017
CREST HILL — The 70 persistent Local 710 Teamsters at Railway Industrial Services have finally secured the benefits they fought for throughout their 44-day long strike and ratified a new three-year contract. They returned to work March 2.
The railway maintenance workers have remained strong on the picket line since Jan. 17 after negotiations reached a standstill.
Enduring a spectrum of harsh weather from subzero wind chills to a severe thunderstorm just last night, they stood their ground day and night to secure a contract that supports their dedication to their jobs.
“You would be hard pressed to find a group more dedicated than these men,” said Local 710 Business Agent Mike Ramirez.
Their unified stance didn’t falter once, and the atmosphere on the picket line was always positive, no matter how hard RIS pushed. Their persistence has finally paid off, and they have won a strong contract,” Ramirez added.
The Local 710 Bargaining Committee returned to the bargaining table Feb. 22 with optimism, but left with extreme disappointment after RIS made only minor changes to the company’s previous offer. At that time, the Teamsters received a letter from RIS, which withdrew management’s last, best and final offer, a seemingly positive move the company had refused to make during the first month of the ongoing labor action.
One of the most important issues for the membership was the cost of healthcare. Local 710 successfully secured a cap on employee contributions towards the monthly premium. Along with that, hourly wages will increase more than five percent on average over the life of the agreement.
Additional language throughout the contract was also strengthened to better protect the members’ rights in the workplace.
They will now be able to use some vacation days as sick days without disciplinary action. Discipline, which previously had no structure, was adjusted to be progressive with multiple steps.
Upon moving up to a higher job classification, members will immediately receive the higher rate of pay for that job, whereas before, that increase was spread out over five years.
“On behalf of Local 710 and the entire Joint Council 25, I want to extend our congratulations to these men on a battle well fought, said Local 710 Trustee John T. Coli. “They fully embody what it means to be a Teamster, and their solidarity is so incredibly impressive and inspiring to all union members. Well done,” Coli added.
—Teamsters Local 710