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Caterpillar Posts Record Second Quarter Profits While Workers Continue Strike In Joliet

By aaroncynic in News on Jul 30, 2012 8:20PM

As striking workers at the Caterpillar plant in Joliet hit the three-month mark on the picket line, the manufacturing behemoth posted record second quarter earnings, WBEZ reports. Sales and revenues for the company were up 22 percent over last year at $17.37 billion, and its quarterly profit was $1.7 billion. In 2011, Caterpillar brought in nearly a $5 billion profit, and projects even bigger profits for this year. Chairman and CEO Douglas Oberhelman, who brought home a $16.9 million paycheck last year said “I am cautiously optimistic about the world economy in 2013, very positive on the long-term prospects for global growth and excited about the role Caterpillar will play in making that growth happen.”

That growth however, hasn't exactly trickled down to the nearly 800 workers who walked off the job on May 1 in a contract dispute over raises, health insurance costs and pension benefits. “It’s corporate greed, plain and simple...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,” said striking worker and union steward Bruce Boaz to the Sun-Times last week. Workers began the strike in May after they rejected a contract Caterpillar offered in April which would have frozen wages and pensions for six years.

Workers and industry experts both believe the company will stick to its final offer in the hopes that workers will eventually cave. Tim O'Brien, president of the IAW local 851 told the Morris Daily Herald “Caterpillar is sticking to their last, best and final offer. They've learned to do a minimal amount of negotiating, just enough to avoid an unfair labor charge.” Industry research analyst Eli Lustgarten told WBEZ “(Caterpillar) Profitability is going to be under somewhat more pressure, particularly outside the United States,” which is why the company has taken such a hard stance against some of its workers, hired temporary replacements, used managers and other workers from its location in Peoria to do their jobs.

Rusty Dunn, a spokesperson for Caterpillar said, “We continue to bring on additional temporary replacement workers and will do so until the strike ends or all of our Caterpillar management employees have been released from their contingency work assignments in Joliet.” While the workers are seeing some pretty tough personal fiscal setbacks, the strike will continue. Striking worker Rose Bain told the New York Times “We’re the people who busted our butts to help them make record profits, we shouldn't be treated like this.” Tom Eley, who's worked at the plant for nearly two decades said to the Sun Times “There is a bigger picture, and we are just doing our part.”