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Strike for Health Insurance Gets a Boost

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Strike for Health Insurance Gets a Boost

Makia Burns of Teamsters Local 743 leads pickets Wednesday at SK Hand Tool Corp. (Chip Mitchell/WBEZ)

Dozens of Chicago toolmakers on strike for health insurance got a shot in the arm Wednesday. A politician who’s counting on their union’s support next year joined their picket line.

SK Hand Tool Corp. makes sockets and wrenches on Chicago’s southwest side. A Teamsters contract covered about 70 workers at that plant and a distribution center in nearby McCook. The contract expired in February and talks to renew it stalled.

In May, the company abruptly dropped the workers’ health insurance. The workers went on strike last month. And, today, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn joined their picket line.

QUINN: When they go to the doctor and find out that their health insurance has been yanked by their employer, that’s not right. We know it’s not right. And that’s why we’re on strike.

Quinn’s visit comes five days after the Teamsters endorsed his campaign to win a full term as governor.

An SK Hand Tool statement says its business is down and that it had no choice about ending the health coverage.

The National Labor Relations Board called that move an unfair labor practice. But the case could drag out for months.

The company, meanwhile, is advertising to fill the strikers’ jobs.

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