Caterpillar workers on strike: ‘It’s corporate greed, plain and simple’

Caterpillar has recently announced 67 percent increase in second-quarter profits but outside of its sprawling plant on Channahon Road in Joliet, some of the workers whose labor contributed to those gains were trying to figure out how they were going to get by on $150 a week strike benefits.

The International Association of Machinists, Local Lodge 851 since May 1, has been on strike against Caterpillar, the world’s largest manufacturer of construction and mining equipment.

About 780 workers walked off the job over contract disputes that include pay raises, higher health care costs and reduced pension benefits.

The standoff is being viewed as a critical test for U.S. labor relations because Caterpillar is asking for concessions despite raking in $4.9 billion in profits last year.

But if Caterpillar’s business strategy is a model for other corporations, then America’s workers are in trouble.

“It’s corporate greed, plain and simple” said Bruce Boaz, 57, of Marseilles, a union steward. Boaz has worked for Caterpillar for 39 years, and intends to retire when he sets foot in the plant again.

“They don’t care. They don’t care about us anymore. They don’t want to share with the people that got them to where they are and that is all of us out here,” he said, as he was passing out the latest union notices to about a dozen picketers Friday.

“They want us to sign a six-year contract and give us nothing.”


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