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Food Drive for Caterpillar Workers on Strike

Why Caterpillar workers deserve our support.

Caterpillar workers on strike since May 1st at the Channahon plant are facing an intractable opponent in their quest for a fair labor contract. The 780 members of Lodge 851 of the International Association of Machinists are only asking for a cost of living increase for each year of the new contract.

Caterpillar, one of the most profitable heavy machinery manufacturing company in the world, froze wages in the last union contract, wants to freeze wages for six more years, increase the employees’ share of health care costs and weaken the seniority provisions in the current contract. Caterpillar has already instituted a two-tier wage system where wages for new hires are slightly above the poverty level for a family of four.

What is happening in Caterpillar’s Channahon plant is a microcosm of what has been happening to the middle class over the last 30 years. Stagnant wages, soaring health care costs, loss of pensions and other benefits, attacks on unions and the continuing outsourcing of jobs overseas are occurring at the very same time productivity per worker has soared and company profits are at record heights. Simply put, workers no longer are sharing in the benefits of their increased productivity.

A food drive to support Caterpillar workers will be held on Saturday, August 11 between 10am and 3pm in the parking lot of the Universalist Unitarian Church at 3401 W. Jefferson St. in Joliet, IL.

Food may also be dropped off for the duration of the strike Monday through Friday, 9:00am to 4:30pm at Teamsters Local 710, 9000 W. 187th St. Mokena, Il.

The food drive is sponsored by Friends of Cat Workers, South Suburban MoveOn Council, Universalist Unitarian Church and Teamsters Local 701.

Ron Kurowski

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Karen Schultz August 12, 2012 at 06:37 PM
By the way....CAT is a company that makes things in the USA and is supporting our trade deficit in a direct way. They effect many employers and employees across our state as well as our country. Their management skills keep their stocks in the running for a positive effect on 401Ks unlike many others. Give credit where credit is due. Try balancing all that leadership does and tell me then what your take is....repeating rhetoric of union officials without understanding the facts or what it takes...does not help with gaining a new job. Comments any where on the internet are fair game to really get to know a future employee.
M&M August 13, 2012 at 01:09 AM
Caring, your insurance cost will nearly triple. First, its my understanding it wil go up over the 6 yrs gradually, not at once, which means it could be a bargain, as costs are going up drastically. Secondly, depending on what you pay now, even going up that much, you guys still may be below the national average. Everyone I know, including myself, pays a monthly premium of $500 to $700. Now in 6 yrs, I can guarantee that price will go up, so you see what I mean, for 6 yrs you know what it will be, but for most people come Jan. we get raised.
lvent August 13, 2012 at 01:28 AM
The costs of everything are way out of line...from food to gas to taxes to healthcare. It is all out of control and there is no justification for any of it. It is just outright robbery of our wealth. The FED are vampires.
Dan August 13, 2012 at 01:45 PM
CC, everyone wants to keep what they have. But, it is a recession. We all have to feel it some. If you have a job and it pays what you consider a reasonable wage, I suggest you go to it and get your pay checks. If you don't think you are getting what you are worth then you need to better yourself by quitting and going elsewhere. No other jobs available you say? Then you better cherish the one you have.
Caring Citizen August 14, 2012 at 04:09 PM
The stabbing in the back I was talking about is the people crossing the picket line who will benefit from any positive gains the rest of us make by standing firm in our position. The more people who cross the weaker the position of the rest of us. The only weapon we have in this fight against unfair treatment is the withholding of our labor. We all deserve to be treated fairly and with respect. Again, we are not asking for huge raises. I could live with the insurance costs and pension changes. But I do believe the other changes Cat is demanding are simply for the purpose of trying to break the union. They have yet to negotiate in good faith. Negotiating is NOT saying "here is my offer, take it or leave it." This is what Cat has done. We know we will not get everything we want, that's why it's called negotiation. But we don't believe we should be the only ones doing the giving, it's supposed to be give & take. And as far as the jobs, I can't even get to an interview. If I could, I might have a shot at overcoming the objections to my job at Cat. Most places don't even respond to the application.

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