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UAW Strikes Deal With Caterpillar

February 14, 1998

CHICAGO (AP) _ Some United Auto Workers members say the contract agreed to by union leaders and Caterpillar Inc. early Friday is similar to a proposal members rejected two years ago.

Jim Clingan, president of UAW Local 974 in East Peoria, said he is recommending ratification only because his members have been working without a contract since 1991. He said he was not happy with the agreement.

``The fact that it’s over with, yes. The settlement itself, no,″ he said.

He and other UAW negotiators said persuading members to support the agreement will not be easy. That was supported by some rank-and-file members who said they do not like what they have been told about the deal.

``I don’t think it’s going to pass,″ said Jim Pardieck of Bartonville, Ill. ``It’s going to be a tough call.″

Union sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the six-year agreement includes lower wages for new workers, less overtime pay, dismissal of federal labor complaints against Caterpillar and amnesty for union members who crossed picket lines.

Elements of the agreement match the Caterpillar proposal that the union rejected more than two years ago.

``We’re pleased to have the negotiations behind us,″ the union’s lead negotiator Richard Shoemaker said, sidestepping the question of whether he likes the agreement. ``We’re confident the agreement will be ratified by the membership.″

UAW members _ some 13,000 in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Tennessee _ have not had a contract since the last one expired in 1991.

The two sides deadlocked over the company’s desire for more flexibility in handling workers and their benefits. The UAW went on strike but returned to work five months later when the company threatened to replace strikers.

Another strike started in June 1994 and lasted a record 17 months. But Caterpillar hired temporary workers and kept up production. Frustrated, the union eventually came back to work without a contract.

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