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Union technicians at Bloomington engine company striking for better safety, wages

Union technicians who work at Cummins Sales and Service in Bloomington are in the third week of a strike.
Anthony Victoria
Union technicians who work at Cummins Sales and Service in Bloomington are in the third week of a strike.

Union technicians who work at Cummins Sales and Service in Bloomington are in the third week of a strike.

The employees at the engine company, who are members of Machinists District Lodge 947, are seeking increased wages due to their involvement in servicing both zero-emission vehicles and conventional engines.

Union organizer Sal Vasquez says another complaint from workers is that they don’t always get information and training on how to handle hazardous material from new vehicle technology.

“We’ve had situations where the batteries have leaked, and they've emitted fumes and folks have got, you know, sick from that,” he told KVCR News as workers picketed Monday.

Cummins technician Joseph Lopez says when a colleague was working on an electric bus and noticed smoke coming from a lithium battery, nobody seemed to know what to do.

Lopez says there was no safety information plan and the employees called the fire department.

“When we asked about..what were the dangers about it, they had no answer,” he said.

Cummins spokesman Jon Mills says the company disputes the workers’ claims. He said in an email that Cummins technicians are among the most highly skilled and trained in the industry.

Mills added that Cummins has been negotiating in good faith with the union.

“We’ve been negotiating for nearly two months and have reached agreement on several issues but unable to come to terms on wages,” he wrote. “However, this week, the Union has abruptly changed its position and claims its decision is based on safety concerns. We dispute this and find it irresponsible.”