New talks set in Caterpillar strike
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain firstname.lastname@example.org May 21, 2012 2:22PM
Updated: July 2, 2012 8:28AM
JOLIET — A second round of negotiations between striking machinists and Caterpillar Inc. representatives will be held Thursday.
The two sides met last week with a federal mediator for the first time since the strike started, but no settlement was reached.
Union machinists from Local Lodge 851 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers went out on strike at the Joliet plant on May 1 after their seven-year contract expired.
Peoria-based Caterpillar had offered the 780 or so workers a new six-year pact, but union members overwhelmingly rejected it on April 29. Union officials have said the deal offers no raises, weakened seniority rights and higher contributions for health care at a time when the company is making record profits.
The company said its deal would offer “market-rate” pay for workers to keep the company competitive in a global market and pay could increase with incentives and bonuses, but it could not decrease. Also, Caterpillar said moving workers to different shifts regardless of seniority would avoid layoffs and the health care contributions are in line with what “many Americans” are paying.
The company refers to the proposed contract as its “last, best and final” offer.
The Caterpillar plant in Joliet makes hydraulic components for tractors that are assembled elsewhere.