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High hopes among union workers as Eaton Corp. resumes contract discussions

An IAM union rep told News 8 that hopes were high among workers as Eaton Corporation returned to contract negotiations on Tuesday.

DAVENPORT, Iowa — After some delay, Eaton Corporation representatives returned to bargaining discussions with International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) union members Tuesday.

Eaton workers said the company's previous contract offer fell short on wages, health care and retirement benefits. Therefore, 98% of union workers chose to reject it on Feb. 17.

Now, on Day 12 of the strike, it's time for Eaton Corporation to respond to the settlement offer that IAM proposed. As IAM District 6 business representative John Herrig told News 8, "The ball is in their court."

Eaton Corporation made the following statement regarding the restart of negotiations with union workers: "Eaton remains committed to negotiating in good faith. We are hopeful the parties will reach a mutually satisfactory agreement."

So far, striking hasn't been a smooth ride for IAM. Ever since Davenport's Eaton Corporation workers took to the picket lines on Feb. 18, workers haven't had the burn barrels, wind-blocking tents or port-a-potties some Quad Cities residents might recall seeing when John Deere union workers went on strike for 35 days in 2021.

RELATED: Eaton union members say Davenport not allowing burn barrels, tents on picket line

Across the Mississippi from the Deere headquarters in Moline, IAM has blamed the lack of amenities on Davenport city ordinances. In the face of February's chilling temps, freezing rain, wind and snow, union members got creative.

"Even in the wake of last week's very raw weather, where you might see some people peeling off, they stuck through it," Herrig said. "They kept warm by dancing."

The union also increased the frequency of its shuttle schedule that brings workers to and from the picket line to a central location, where they're able to warm up and get food and drinks.

And as temperatures have risen this week in the Quad Cities, so have the hopes of IAM union members with the promise of continued negotiations.

"We're pretty hopeful that we can more Eaton Corporation towards our goal. We may not be able to get everything that we want," Herrig said, "but what they're offering is well below what we see with other the contracts (IAM) negotiate(s)."

Eaton has yet to counter the union's offer.

"Hopes are as high as spirits right now," he said.

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