Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Bitter Strike Ends Badly for CAT Workers

CAT worker Vickey Pogliano reacts to results of the strike vote outside of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union hall in Joliet on Friday.

The rich, corporate hacks at Caterpillar Tractor are celebrating this weekend.  They have busted out another union, this time the Machinists Union at the Joliet, Illinois CAT plant.  Look at the above photo of CAT worker Vickey Pogliano.  It even makes ME cry!  Vickey and other 600 machinists in the local voted to return to work on Friday--they HAD to--they'd been without a salary since May 1st.  But Joliet CAT workers will be paying double for health care, their pensions have been frozen, and those hired before May of 2005 get no raise.  There is a $3,100 one-time signing bonus for all workers.  Big blankin' deal!

CAT CEO Douglas Oberhelman is smiling.  His company has busted out another labor union.

This is in contrast to CAT's CEO,  Douglas R. Oberhelman, who made $49,114,564 in 2011, according to Morningstar.  Six CAT "group presidents" averaged over six million dollars for the same year.  That's like winning the lottery every year!  The executives' salaries go up, the plant workers' salaries go down.

Tier I Cat workers (workers who were hired before May 1, 2005) will continue making an average of $26.35 an hour for the next six years.  There is no raise. 

So it is in the corporate run America of 2012.

What CAT is doing to its workers is criminal.  Here is a company that is getting $330,000,000 in tax breaks per year from the State of Illinois, is making money hand-over-foot, and CAT cannot pay give its workers a cost of living increase?  Shouldn't the CAT workers be sharing in the company's good fortune? 

Yes they should!

The Republicans like to talk about President Obama starting a campaign of class warfare when the president proposes raising the income taxes of those making over $250,000 per year.  But what CAT did to its Joliet machinists is the real class warfare.

Just think what Vickey Pogliano and her family will have to do.  First, Vickey will have to work longer because her pension has been frozen.  The night when she and her husband took the kids out to Pizza Hut will fall by the wayside.  Instead of having chicken every Sunday, the family will eat rice and beans.  Any hope of sending the kids to college will disappear.  They will have to find their own way to college.  The back-to-school supplies and clothes will not happen this year.

Meanwhile Doug Oberhelman's salary went up 42% this year because of CAT's record profits.  Doug and his wife Diane will have a multi-million dollar pension when he retires.  They can vacation anywhere they want in the world.   I can't believe this guy's from Woodstock.  In my next life I'm going to have a long talk with him in 1965 as I hold him by his shoe laces over the side of bridge above the Chicago & Northwestern tracks. ("Now when you grow up, you're going to be a Chuck Percy Republican, Dougie! Got that?")

The question then is how long will Americans sit by and watch this go on?  How long before you get up off your dead ass, head out into the streets, and protest what CAT and all of corporate America is doing to the middle class?

Here's hoping you get up soon.  Time's running out!


1 comment:

  1. I think the Occupy movement is still camping out and playing bongos versus canvassing like the Tea Party did in 2010. When we hit 10% stated and 25% real unemployment, maybe they'll get serious. Appreciate the warning though as multi-national behemoths like Cat have no interest in our American children whatsoever- which is painfully unfortunate for us.