Caterpillar workers reject latest contract proposal
By Bob Okon firstname.lastname@example.org April 29, 2012 8:54PM
Updated: June 4, 2012 3:09PM
JOLIET — Caterpillar Inc. workers could go on strike this week after rejecting the company’s latest contract proposal on Sunday.
The strike could start as early as Tuesday depending on whether last-hour negotiations produce results.
The current contract expires at midnight Monday for 780 Caterpillar workers in Lodge 851 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.
The union issued a statement Sunday saying that members met and “overwhelmingly” turned down a contract proposal and authorized a strike. The union will talk with the company again before the contract expires, the statement said.
The practice of the Machinists has been to strike if a new contract agreement is not reached by the time the old contract expires.
Machinists last week held an informational picket outside of the Caterpillar plant, which is located just outside of Joliet along Route 6.
At that time, the union said the company was proposing pay cuts by as much as $8 an hour while more than doubling what workers pay for health insurance. The company also had proposed erasing daily overtime unless a worker puts in a 40-hour week. The company wanted contract changes that would allow for more part-time workers. An incentive pay plan also would be eliminated, the union said.
Cat spokesman Rusty Dunn said in a press release issued late Sunday night that the outcome of the contract vote was “unfortunate.”
“Our employees rejected what we believe to be a competitive contract offer,” he said. “We will now assess the situation and determine what, if any, are the appropriate next steps in this process.
Dunn said the Joliet plant would continue to operate and meet production levels during the contract dispute.