UAW Members Reject Caterpillar Offer The United Auto Workers union (UAW), which represents 8,000 Caterpillar workers, announced its members voted last weekend to reject a six-year labor agreement proposed by the company. Caterpillar has called the proposal “its final offer.”
The current contract expired on April 25, but the UAW instructed workers to go to work as scheduled on Monday, without a contact.
“Nothing has changed— both sides are re-accessing the situation,” a union representative, who spoke anonymously, told Fleet Owner.
Ben Cordani, Caterpillar spokesperson, said that since the Monday after the vote, workers are returning to their posts and receiving the same wages and benefits.
“Business as usual is underway at Caterpillar. Everything is largely the same as it was on Friday [before the contract expired],” Cordani told Fleet Owner.
No date has been set on renegotiations, but the union representative indicated that it would be “soon.”
“We will convene the UAW-Caterpillar Central Bargaining Committee as soon as practical to assess the situation and plan our next steps,” said UAW vp Cal Rapson, in a written statement.
According to The Detroit News wages, health care, and job security are the key issues among union members.
UAW had organized strikes against Caterpillar in the 1990s— and lost, according to David Phillips, an editor for The Detroit News.
“They had a bitter strike, but Caterpillar was able to keep their facilities going through its white collar workers. Eventually the union had to recall their workers— it was huge loss for them,” Phillips told Fleet Owner.
Although union members have rejected the proposal, UAW does have the right to accept it on the workers’ behalf if talks fall through, Phillips notes.
UAW represents over 8,000 workers at Caterpillar facilities in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Tennessee.
The vote came after Caterpillar reported tripling its first quarter profits to $412 million over the same period last year. Caterpillar expects to up 2004 revenues 20% and profit per share 65% to 70%, compared to 2003.
The negotiations also came as the tally of manufacturing job losses mounted nationwide to three million since 2000. Outsourcing to cheaper foreign labor is a factor in that drop. Caterpillar currently has several manufacturing facilities outside the U.S.