The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has an interesting piece comparing the ongoing Caterpillar labor talks in South Milwaukee with the contentious ones last year in Joliet, Ill.
It’s an interesting read that provides an in-depth look at the hard stance Caterpillar takes in union negotiations — a stance the company has obviously adopted here.
From the article …
To see how strained labor relations could be at Caterpillar Inc. in South Milwaukee, you need look no further than Joliet, Ill., where the company faced a strike in 2012 that lasted nearly four months and might have set the stage for the current labor dispute here.
Local 851 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers demanded cost-of-living pay increases and lower health care premiums for nearly 800 Caterpillar employees in Joliet, and asked the company to honor seniority rights.
After rejecting two contract offers and going on strike, they received: a wage freeze for workers hired before 2005, the elimination of pensions, doubled health care premiums, and fewer seniority rights.
Fast forward to today, and Caterpillar is in a standoff with Local 1343 of the United Steelworkers International that represents more than 800 employees at the company’s plant in South Milwaukee.
Last Tuesday, union members voted down a proposed contract that called for a six-year wage freeze and lower wages for new hires. It also would have given the company more flexibility in making temporary layoffs, up to 14 weeks per employee per year.
Contract negotiations are scheduled to resume Wednesday.
The resumption of talks comes as Caterpillar prepares to cut more jobs in North America.
First, it’s laying off another 300 people in Decatur, Ill., and it’s closing another facility — this one in Canada. More than 300 people will be without jobs there, according to CBC News.