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Eaton, union negotiators unable to reach 2nd contract agreement

IAM officials say a new contract offer was unattainable after two days of negotiations. Roughly 365 union members remain on strike against Eaton Corporation.

DAVENPORT, Iowa — Despite some changes in the latest proposals, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) and Eaton Corporation employees have not come to an agreement on a new contract.

In a statement, IAM officials said the union and Eaton representatives met Tuesday and Wednesday to try and resolve the strike at Mission Systems Division of Davenport.

"Although several passes were made on each day and parties discussed all the sticking points which have resulted in this strike action, the parties have not been able to reach a tentative agreement," part of the statement read.

According to the release, Eaton's latest proposals included changing the contract from the originally offered 3-year agreement to a 5-year agreement. 

"But the rest is basically unchanged," continued the statement. 

RELATED: 'Pretty brutal, but well worth it' | Union workers at Davenport's Eaton plant go on strike

Roughly 365 IAM union workers from locals 388 and 1191 have been on strike since midnight on Feb. 18. The day before the walkout began, 98% of local union members voted in favor of going on strike

A union rep tells News 8 the members felt as though the offered contract fell flat on wages, health care and retirement benefits, including issues with 401k matches. 

In the latest union statement, IAM Business Representative for District 6, John Herrig, said, "The Union's position regarding supporting an agreement which contains wage increases that are dwarfed by the cost of living and take-aways in health care and retirement are unacceptable to our membership."  

Now, strikers are entering their third week on the picket lines after what's already been a challenging 14 days. 

"The wind has been pretty rough," said Mike Roberts, a machinist from Moline. "Pretty brutal. But well worth it!" 

Through the chilling temperatures, freezing rain, wind and snow that February brought, union members have been unable to weather it out with many of the typical strike equipment. 

Employees on the picket lines are unable to have burn barrels, wind-blocking tents or even porta-potties. According to IAM, it's all due to an ordinance from the city of Davenport blocking such items within city limits

Multiple Davenport officials, including Mayor Mike Matson, have not responded to requests for comment on the matter. 

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

"We're reaching out to the city to see if we can do things to meet our individual needs, you know, things as simple as placing a port-a-potty or a warming tent to get some relief from the weather," Herrig said. "But if they're unable or unwilling to provide such humanitarian type needs for our people, then we rely on the goodwill and support of our neighbors across the street." 

To help cope, members have gotten creative, with some passing the time on the line by dancing. The union also increased the frequency of its shuttle schedule that brings union workers back and forth from the nearby Elks Lodge, where they're able to use the restroom, warm up and grab food and drinks. 

"We just try to keep each other warm by dancing around," said Aaidan Tapia, a committee member from Local 388. "We want what's fair, especially for health care and the the 401k contributions. That's our biggest wash right now, so this is what we have to stand for." 

Eaton's Davenport facility is located on the western side of the city on Hickory Grove Road. It specializes in contract work for the U.S. government and other aerospace companies. The workers on strike make a variety of products including aerial refueling equipment, fuel tank inverting systems and other environmental products for the military, according to a company spokesperson. 

Last year, Eaton Corporation bought Cobham, which owned the manufacturing plant in Davenport, for $2.8 billion.

The Davenport plant employs almost 1,000 people, putting it in the top 20 major employers in the Quad Cities, according to the Quad Cities Chamber.   

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