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IAM members fight Caterpillar on wage freeze

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26 July, 2012Members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) union have been on strike at a Caterpillar plant in Illinois, USA since 1 May, 2012 rejecting deep contract concessions at a time when business is booming.

Despite Caterpillar earning a record $4.9 billion profit in 2011 and even better results projected for 2012, the company has insisted on a six year wage freeze, a pension freeze and sharp increases in health care coverage contributions at the plant. The deadlock has led to an ongoing work stoppage since May. The strike in Joliet, Illinois, now in its 13th week, was overwhelmingly voted for by 585 versus 37 workers in rejecting Caterpillar’s demands on contract concessions.

You’ve made this company’s most profitable year ever. You lay the beams, turn the wrenches, assemble all the components to make the greatest products of its type in the world. They reward those who have never done what you do and they want you to give back what you’ve been able to earn

said Tom Buffenbarger, IAM International President, at the solidarity rally in Joliet on 1 May. (See video of the solidarity rally here)

The conflict is taking on national significance as Caterpillar is leading the way to find new ways to cut labour costs. “We believe we have exhausted the negotiating process,” said company spokesman Rusty Dunn in a recent interview with New York Times writer Steven Greenhouse. “The primary strategy, going forward, is to run the plant with the contingent work force as long as the work stoppage continues.” See full article here.

Meanwhile, pay for Caterpillar Chief Executive Douglas Oberhelman jumped 60 percent in 2011 to $16.9 million while other top executives also received sizable pay increases last year. In the first quarter of 2012 Caterpillar, the world’s largest maker of construction and mining equipment, announced over $1.5 billion in profits. Last year it recorded $4.9 billion in profits but still in an effort to stay “competitive” expects workers to make concessions. 

IndustriALL Global Union has written a letter to the CEO of Caterpillar. Jyrki Raina, IndustriALL General Secretary writes, “I strongly urge you to engage with the IAM for a fair and just resolution to this matter. Do not forget that it is the skilled workers that have made your company one of the most profitable in 2011.” 

Send a protest letter to Caterpillar CEO:

Douglas R. Oberhelman

Chairman and CEO of Caterpillar Inc.

Email: [email protected]


Send a solidarity letter to Caterpillar workers :


Email: [email protected]