By Kristin Bien (firstname.lastname@example.org)
5:38 PM EDT, June 16, 2011
About 2,500 workers across northern Indiana remain on strike. Both sides are arguing over the numbers for a new contract. If the strike continues for an extended period of time, it could cause a major delay for many building and road projects.
Local 150 workers say they're fighting for higher health insurance benefits to keep up with the cost of inflation. But the group representing employers says the union's two-year proposal insists on a pay increase which is more than double healthcare costs.
According to a union spokesperson, negotiations are stalled and there will be no agreement unless both sides get back to the negotiating table. That is frustrating news for people who want to see an end to all this construction.
"It is a pretty sad thing," says Dick Divine, "all these improvements the city is trying to make and it is being held up by this. It just seems they ought to be able to come together a little better and come to an agreement."
Union workers picketed at their work sites throughout the day Thursday.
According to the Indiana Department of Transportation, 18 of its 26 state projects are at a standstill. That includes the US 31 project. Many county and city projects are also stopped like work on Church Street in Mishawaka.
"I was trying to get home," says Divine, "I just had lunch at Doc Pierce's. I usually come this way to go home and it is kind of blocked off."
Devine has been zig-zagging around town for the past couple months because of construction projects and there may not be any end in sight. INDOT says long-term projects like the US 31 project won't see much of a delay because it is not scheduled to finish up until 2014. But other, smaller projects will be affected.
"There are smaller projects around the area where there are completion dates scheduled for June, July and august which are actually going to be pushed back now because of the work stoppage," says Jim Pinkerton, an INDOT spokesperson.
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