* 800 workers on strike after expired contract
* Caterpillar utilizing replacement workers
* IAM says negotiations are not scheduled
May 1 About 800 workers went on strike at a
Caterpillar Inc plant in Joliet, Illinois, early Tuesday
morning after one of the company's union contracts expired with
little indication of when a new pact could be in place.
The employees, represented by the International Association
of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union, firmly rejected the
company's six-year contract offer during a vote Sunday night. On
Monday, union officials said talks had ended with Caterpillar.
Caterpillar has responded to the strike by bringing in
replacement workers so that it can continue meeting production
schedules as planned, spokesman Rusty Dunn said on Tuesday. The
workers on strike produce hydraulic components and systems for a
variety of Caterpillar machines, including track-type tractors,
wheel loaders and mining trucks.
The labor dispute comes as Caterpillar is racing to fill
growing demand in North America and in the global mining sector.
While the company has experienced a slowdown in China, Europe
and Brazil, it is relying on its strength in North America and
its mining business to offset that weakness.
IAM's strike also follows a high-profile labor dispute that
took place late last year between Caterpillar and the Canadian
Auto Workers at a locomotive plant in London, Ontario. CAW
workers voted down a Caterpillar offer, and the company ended up
closing the plant and moving the work elsewhere.
Steve Jones, an official with the IAM Local 851, said about
50 workers showed up to the picket line in Joliet on Tuesday
morning. No further negotiations are scheduled with Caterpillar,
On Monday, Jones told Reuters that Caterpillar's recent
offer was rejected because it calls for "wage stagnation" over
the next six years and higher health care premiums.
"We're going to be in a much worse economic position six
years from now than we are now," Jones said. Caterpillar has
said the company its proposed deal represented a "competitive
Shares of Caterpillar were unchanged at $102.77 in trading
before the market opened.