Striking Union Workers Reject Caterpillar’s Latest Offer
JOLIET, Ill. (AP) _ Union members are manning picket lines today, the 11th day in their strike against Caterpillar Inc.’s local plant, after overwhelmingly rejecting the company’s latest contract offer.
Members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 851 voted 1,196-747 Sunday night to reject the company’s latest offer, said union spokesman Joe Misener.
″We’re still on strike and the picket lines remain up,″ Misener said in a telephone interview Sunday. ″We’ve notified the company that we’re willing to return to the bargaining table, and now it’s up to them to decide when we’re going to meet.″
Caterpillar spokesman Don Weir said, ″The only statement we have right now is that it’s extremely unfortunate.″
Asked if the company would resume negotiations, Weir said, ″I have no comment on that at this time.″
About 2,400 workers went on strike from the company’s Joliet component parts plant when their 3-year contract expired Aug. 1. A federal mediator joined the talks last week, and union bargainers decided Friday to seek a vote when the company modified an earlier offer.
Union and company officials have said stumbling blocks to a settlement have been the company’s proposals to extend a wage freeze imposed three years ago for another 32 months and to schedule workers for four 10-hour days or three 12-hour days weekly, instead of the traditional five eight-hour days.
The Joliet plant has continued operating with 900 salaried employees, but Caterpillar, based in Peoria, has said the strike interrupted assembly work at its plants in Aurora and Decatur.
The Joliet strike is unrelated to Caterpillar’s contract with the United Auto Workers.
On Wednesday, Caterpillar officials signed a new 27-month contract with the UAW, covering about 17,000 workers at 14 plants in five states. It was the first time in more than a decade that the company had reached a contract with the Auto Workers without a strike.
The Joliet factory produces component parts, such as hydraulic hoses, for machines and engines manufactured or assembled at Caterpillar plants in other cities such as East Peoria, Mossville, Pontiac and Davenport, Iowa.