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Caterpillar, Workers Reach Tentative Deal On Contract (Read More…)

By Bob Tita
April 30, 2013

Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) and the United Steelworkers Union have reached a tentative agreement on a six-year contract for about 800 workers who assemble mining machinery in Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Members of Steelworkers Local 1343 in Milwaukee will be voting Tuesday on a proposed contract that would freeze wages and the pension for veteran workers and lower pay rates for new hires. Workers also would contribute more for health insurance coverage for family members, the newspaper reports.

In return, the Peoria, Ill., machinery maker would provide workers with a $2,500 bonus for ratifying the contract and additional cash bonuses tied to the company’s performance that could total $25,000 per worker over the life of the contract. Workers are paid between $18 and $34 per hour, the newspaper says.

The current contract is scheduled to expire on Tuesday. Caterpillar this summer is expected to lay off about 300 workers, or 40% of the unionized work force, at a pair of plants in Milwaukee and South Milwaukee in response to slowing demand for mining machinery. Caterpillar also plans to dismiss 460 workers at its plant in Decatur, Ill., where large mining trucks are assembled.

Caterpillar acquired the Milwaukee assembly plants as part of its $8.8 billion purchase of Bucyrus International Inc. in 2011. The current contract fashioned by Bucyrus and the USW in 2008 extended an earlier agreement and eliminated a two-tier wage scale that paid new employees less than veteran workers.

Members of Local 1343 have so far have given no indication they intend to strike. Workers at a Caterpillar plant in Joliet, Ill., waged an unsuccessful three-month strike last year. Workers at the plant ended up accepting the company’s demands for cuts in health-care and pension benefits and a freeze in wages for veteran workers—conditions that union had opposed for months. Workers at the Joliet plant, which makes hydraulic components for construction machinery, are represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

Caterpillar last year closed a rail-locomotive assembly plant in London, Ont., after workers there refused to accept pay cuts of around 50%. Caterpillar had said the pay levels and union work rules made that plant uncompetitive. The company then expanded production of locomotives at a non-union plant in Muncie, Ind


Posted by Admin on 04/30 at 07:42 AM

More Caterpillar workers battle union fines over strike (Read More…)

By Meribah Knight
April 17, 2013

Fifteen more Caterpillar workers have filed federal charges against the machinists union in Joliet, alleging that the union unlawfully fined them for crossing the picket line during last summer’s three-month strike at Peoria-based Caterpillar Inc.

Last May, after contract negotiations stalled, nearly 800 employees represented by the International Association of Machinists walked off the job at Caterpillar’s hydraulic-parts factory. After a few weeks, more than 100 returned to work, fed up over the lack of progress in the talks.

The charges, filed with the National Labor Relations Board, are the latest in a string of lawsuits following the strike that were brought against IAM Local 851.

To date, 41 workers have filed charges. The most recent come exactly three months after the union settled a case with two workers, Daniel Eggleston and Steven Olsen, who were fined by the union after crossing the picket line despite the fact that they were not officially members of the union for years.


According to the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, other Caterpillar workers who contacted the foundation for free legal aid were fined more than $30,000 by the union after crossing the picket line this past summer.

The union did not return calls seeking comment.

The workers are being represented pro bono by the legal defense foundation, an organization associated with the National Right to Work Committee, backed by businesspeople and individuals who oppose labor contracts mandating membership. It lobbies for right-to-work legislation making union membership voluntary. Such legislation now exists in 24 states around the country including Michigan and Indiana.


Posted by Admin on 04/18 at 09:03 AM