At Caterpillar, the New Normal vs. (An Increasingly Tough) Line In the Sand

by
Abby Zimet

All Kinds of Wrong: The unconscionable inequities of the economic landscape continue to play out in the third month of a strike by 800 machinists at a Joliet, Ill. Caterpillar plant, where the historically hard-line, cost-cutting company is insisting on a six-year wage freeze and pension freeze despite record profits of $4.9 billion - or $39,000 per worker - and soaring executive pay. Where to begin? The company makes the rigs used in the longstanding and ongoing demolition of Palestinian citizens' homes, despite international condemnation. It already divides and rips off workers with two-tier wage scales and higher worker contributions for health insurance - which it wants to raise again. It has blithely hired scabs while union workers picket in 100 degree heat, try to get by on $150 strike pay, fall behind on mortgage payments, take half their meds doses, and have to tell their kids they can't play Little League because they don't have the $40 fee. Man. Talk about fighting the good fight amidst increasingly bleak odds. This is why we need unions.

"It’s a strike we had to have.” - Albert Williams, a 19-year Caterpillar employee.

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