The following is written by Ron Kurowski of the South Suburban MoveOn Council.
It is not unusual for a company if it is in financial distress, faced
with outrageous demands or is unable to compete in a tough
economy to play hard-ball during contract negotiations with a union.
However none of these apply to the strike by Local 851 of the
International Association of Machinists at Caterpillar’s hydraulic
manufacturing plant in Channahon, IL. That is what makes this
work-stoppage so troubling.
Caterpillar is a very
profitable company. It reported second-quarter profits of $1.7 billion,
up 67 percent from a year earlier; a year in which Caterpillar earned
$4.7 billion in profits. Despite its profitability and the fact that
Caterpillar workers had their wages frozen during the previous six-year
contract, the company is demanding the wage freeze be extended for its
780 union members for six more years, that workers pay a greater share
of health care costs and that major changes be made to the seniority
provision in the contract.
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