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Caterpillar Reaches Agreement With Striking Workers

By aaroncynic in News on Aug 17, 2012 8:40PM

Striking workers at the Caterpillar plant in Joliet have approved a contract with the company, ending their three and a half month strike. The Chicago Tribune reports though workers did not give an official count, the vote to approve a new contract with the company was close. The agreement gave workers a one time ratification bonus of $3,100, up from the company’s original offer of $1,000, and calls for a 3 percent wage increase for workers hired after 2005. Wages for workers hired before 2005 would be frozen for the six year contract. In addition, the contract eliminates pensions in favor of a 401K type plan, and health care premiums will double.

International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union local president Timothy O’Brien told the Wall Street Journal that the increased ratification bonus most likely tipped the scales in the fight for an agreement. He recommended against accepting the latest offer, which forces workers to make significant concessions, but said “I understand the members’ plight. I get it. We’re going back to work.” Workers had been seeing plenty of tough personal fiscal setbacks and more than 100 had crossed the picket line.

Tim Flaherty, general manager of advanced components systems operations said in a statement on behalf of the company “We are pleased with the outcome of the vote and certainly happy to have our employees coming back to work.”

Some employees still aren’t so happy about the outcome of the contract. John Hunt told the Tribune “I wasted four months of my life.” Vickey Pogliano said “I’m shocked. I know there is a lot of people hurting but they didn’t see the big picture.”

The manufacturing giant recorded record profits in July and has often taken a hard stance at organizing workers. A union spokesperson said workers would begin to be phased back in on Monday.