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The strike at Eaton Corporation-Cobham Mission Systems in Davenport continues, but company officials say they are now hiring replacement workers, while some union members may have returned to the job. The union presented its counterproposal to the company’s last offer on Tuesday, March 15, and talks are expected to resume on Tuesday, March 22. As of March 15, the Davenport company had hired 20 permanent replacement workers and 55 union members had returned to work, according to Katie Kennedy, senior manager of communications and marketing communications for Eaton-Cobham. At least one union official, however, denied that 55 of its members were back on the job. Members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace (IAM) Local 388, Davenport, and IAM Local 1191, based in Moline, have been on strike since Friday, Feb. 18. “Given the complexity of our products and the time it takes to train new hires, we are taking the necessary steps to hire replacement workers to ensure we can continue to fulfill our customer commitments,” Ms. Kennedy said in a statement to the QCBJ on Tuesday night. “We received a positive response to our job postings. … We are continuing to interview this week and anticipate extending more offers.” The company made those job postings known to striking union members outside Eaton when it hung two large banners in front of the company plant on Tuesday. The banners state “Launch your new career” and list several jobs available at Eaton. Those jobs, which pay up to $36 an hour, include tool and die makers, machinists, millwrights and more. “Signs don’t get the work done. We do,” John Herrig, IAM District 6 union business representative, said in a statement to the QCBJ. As for the report of 55 union members returning to work, Mr. Herrig said Wednesday, “Simply not true.” However, he would not elaborate or comment on whether any of the union’s members had returned to work. Also on Tuesday, a giant inflatable rat was placed outside the company’s facility for much of the day. Frequently called a union rat, the inflatables often serve as a symbol to call public attention to companies employing non-union labor. The inflatable was gone by 4 p.m. Tuesday. As of late Tuesday afternoon, at least 20 union members were picketing outside Eaton. Several union members said they could not comment on the strike. Mr. Herrig said that union and company representatives met for about an hour on March 15. “The company was given our settlement proposal and said they will talk with us again on March 22,” he added. Ms. Kennedy confirmed the company is currently reviewing the union’s latest offer and is scheduled to continue bargaining next week. “We remain committed to negotiating in good faith and are hopeful the parties will reach a mutually satisfactory agreement,” she added. More than 400 IAM workers went on strike at 12:01 a.m., Friday, Feb. 18, after rejecting the initial proposed three-year pact with Eaton-Cobham. A second contract offer was rejected by union members on Friday, March 4. In a news release issued after the first vote, the union said IAM members “voted almost unanimously to strike after management made a contract offer with substandard wages, reduced health care benefits and decreased 401(k) retirement matching contributions.” Eaton Corporation, which acquired the former Cobham Mission Systems last year, manufactures air-to-air refueling systems, environment systems and actuation, primarily for defense markets, according to its website. Eaton-Cobham Mission Systems employs about a total workforce of about 950 people in the Quad Cities.