August 18, 2012
Caterpillar doing just fine
Caterpillar and the International Association of Machinists more or less decided that negotiations between the International Association of Machinists (IAM) and Caterpillar this year would be a test case in American labor relations, in part because Caterpillar was driving such a hard bargain when business was thriving. Then 780 workers went on strike and nothing changed. It soon became obvious that this negotiation was not so much about pay raises as it was the right to dictate terms and conditions of employment. This battle was, in the private sector, the equivalent of the Walker effort to destroy public sector unions by Scott Walker. Caterpillar wants to bust the union. Period.
While those in the private sector fought like hell, the contract obtained granted just about all demands made by management that caused the strike, including a six-year wage freeze. The message from Caterpillar seemed to be: You are next! And the results seemed to support that notion. If unioins cannot negotiate better deals than the Caterpillar union, right-to-work might be a reality soon.
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Y'know, earlier this year Caterpillar became persona non-grata in London Ontario Canada ( http://rabble.ca/columnists/2012/02/caterpillar-and-investment-canada-act ).
Cat showed up, took over a profitable manufacturing plant, got a bunch of money from the Harper government, closed the plant, laid off the workers, and moved the production to the US.
There's even talk about banning their products in Canada based on their actions.
Each new Cat CEO has increased their pay substantially. The current CEO started at $5M and gave himself a raise to $10M.
Seems like back in the 1980s-90s, George Schaffer, the CEO then, was only making $200K. Then Don Fites took over and doubled that to $400K.
Under his reign, Cat had one of the longest UAW strikes, and nasty too.
I am surprised a little that the US government allowed Cat to take over Bucyrus, really reducing the competition in the market.
But wait, that's really what capitalism is all about: killing the competition.
-Mad Hemingway | Heart of Badger country | August 19, 2012