Ecolab workers on strike in Joliet

Minnesota-based maker of cleaning products has manufacturing plant and warehouses in Will County

Striking workers at Ecolab facilities in Joliet will vote on a new company proposal on Wednesday.

Workers with the International Association of Machinists Local 124 have been on strike since Sunday morning at the Ecolab production plant on Route 6 and two company warehouses in the Rock Run Business Park.

The Minnesota-based manufacture of cleaning products has offered a new proposal since workers rejected the last contract proposal on Saturday.

“There is a union membership vote scheduled for 9 a.m. tomorrow morning on a proposal for a new contract, and we hope this will resolve the current situation,” Ecolab spokesman Roman Blahoski said in an email on Tuesday.

Blahoski would not comment on issues that led to the strike, and Machinists officials could not be reached for comment.

But workers on the picket line said the strike is largely due to management’s insistence on contract terms that would impose new limits on when workers could take vacations. Workers said they were concerned about the limits on when they could take vacations and the prospect that the proposed system could lead to employees with lower seniority missing vacation altogether.

Workers said the union also has attempted to close the wage gap in a tiered pay system that brings in newer employees under a lower wage scale than senior workers.

Ecolab provides soaps and other cleaning products to restaurants, hotels, manufacturers and other customers. The company has customers in 170 countries, according to its website.

The company has recently expanded the capacity of its Joliet facility.

In addition to the manufacturing plant on Route 6, Ecolab has two large distribution facilities in the Rock Run Business Park, which is located off of Houbolt Road and near Interstate 80.

Machinists Local 124 had picket sites set up at all three locations on Tuesday.

One worker on the picket lines said the company is marking its 50th year in Joliet and has plans for a ribbon-cutting ceremony in October for its expanded operations at the Route 6 facility.

He also said the current strike is the first at Ecolab since 1976.