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Workers picket plants of Murrysville-based Cleveland Brothers

Lillian DeDomenic | For The Murrysville Star
Members of Union Local #66, International Union of Operating Engineers, went on strike at Clevelnad Brothers in Murrysville for unfair labor practices last week.

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By Daveen Rae Kurutz
Wednesday, July 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

About 275 striking employees of Cleveland Brothers are picketing eight of the machinery company's western Pennsylvania plants and saying the Murrysville-based company has engaged in unfair labor practices.

After nearly two months of negotiations, members of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 66, a Pittsburgh-based union, authorized a strike last week, said Josh Bloom, attorney for the union. Union members have filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board that says Cleveland Brothers officials were negotiating directly with employees, Bloom said.

On its website, the union states, “After unsuccessfully trying to get the union bargaining committee to agree to give up their pension, we believe the company engaged in unlawful activity to coerce our brothers and sisters to agree to this drastic and unacceptable concession.”

Carl Tinkham, director of marketing for Cleveland Brothers, said the accusation is untrue. Tinkham said the two sides have been bargaining “in good faith” for two months and have reached an agreement on all but one issue — pension benefits for retirees.

A three-year contract with the laborers expired June 30, Tinkham said.

“We're still open to resolving this issue,” Tinkham said.

The strike affects eight Cleveland Brothers locations — Murrysville, New Stanton, Blawnox, Cranberry, Somerset, Lantz Corner, Clearfield and Erie. Employees at the other 18 company locations in central and eastern Pennsylvania and West Virginia are not striking.

Bloom said company officials said they can not negotiate again until Friday. Picketers could be seen from Route 22 throughout the week. Bloom said employees plan to picket 24/7 until an agreement is met.

Cleveland Brothers, formed in 1948, sells Caterpillar heavy equipment and parts and also provides service for and rentals of the units. According to federal records, the company received 433 federal contracts totaling nearly $8.6 million, predominantly from the Department of Defense, between 2008 and 2012.

Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or dkurutz@tribweb.com.

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