Union representatives organizing members in Caterpillar meet in Chicago and commit to acting on the Network Guidelines and Principles.
USA: Members of the IMF Caterpillar Steering Group from Belgium, Brazil, France, Germany, the UK and the USA convened in Chicago, USA on March 30-31, 2011 to advance the trade union work initiated last year in Grenoble, France.
The meeting took place shortly after the successful conclusion by the UAW of a new six-year contract covering some 9,500 Caterpillar workers at seven facilities in the USA. UAW bargainers believe the establishment of the Network provided a boost to reaching this agreement without strike action. The participants further reported on bargaining results and industrial relations in their respective countries, putting special emphasis on the need for improving employment prospects and benefits for workers as Caterpillar rebounds from the global economic crisis.
In line with the guidelines developed after the inaugural meeting of the Network, a Steering Group was formally established and UAW Secretary Treasurer Dennis Williams was elected as chairperson. Moreover each of the participating unions committed to taking the necessary steps to promote the regular exchange of information and provide solidarity support to each other when needed.
As an outcome of the discussions, the Network adopted an action plan for moving forward that includes:
- Establishing a space on the IMF website dedicated to the Caterpillar Network,
- Conducting a survey on employment status at Caterpillar facilities across the world. The collected data will contribute to the IMF campaign against precarious work,
- Tracking and monitoring collective bargaining developments at Caterpillar facilities,
- Undertaking efforts to establish contacts with Caterpillar unions not currently part of the Network, for example in India,
- Compiling information on training and occupational health and safety in the various countries with a view to formulating common policy objective, and
- Engaging in constructive dialogue with management for recognition of the Network.
The Steering Group will meet again in early 2012 to evaluate progress in achieving these objectives and to adopt steps to expand the effectiveness of the Network and further build the strength of trade unions and workers at Caterpillar.
In concluding comments to the thirty delegates gathered in Chicago, Dennis Williams expressed the consensus of the Steering Group that the development of a strong and active network will empower organized Caterpillar workers across the world to achieve better wages, benefits, working conditions and job security.
As members of the Steering Group, the IMF Australian affiliate AMWU participated via conference call and the Japanese affiliate IMF-JC contributed written proposals to the development and functioning of the network, being unable to attend due to the dramatic events in Japan. The meeting was hosted by the UAW and benefited from the support of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES).