Toothless threat

A strike nobody noticed is over.

Striking Caterpillar workers formally threw in the towel Friday, reluctantly ratifying a give-back contract and agreeing to return to work at the company's Joliet plant.

More than 700 workers had been on strike since May in a dispute that drew little attention from the public and bothered Cat not at all.

Strikes are about gaining leverage and using it to secure higher pay, better benefits or something less than that, depending on your perspective.

It's no secret that even unionized workers don't have a lot of clout at the bargaining table these days. Most of them probably are grateful just to have a job.

But Cat workers hoped for something better, noting that Caterpillar has been making record profits and considering their labor a crucial ingredient in the revenue-generating process.

Like everyone who has a job, they wanted a raise and thought they could use their strike power to force one.

But Cat didn't budge, not only not offering raises but seeking higher employee contributions to pay for company-provided health coverage.

When the strike started in May, the Caterpillar plant simply kept production going as best it could, warning strikers that they are overpaid in comparison to worldwide competition and wouldn't be getting any bonanza.

It's not easy to go without a paycheck for more than three months. Some strikers, recognizing the futility of the strike, crossed the picket line. The remainder now will follow them.

Time was when Cat's unions routinely brought the company to its knees. The weak economy and worldwide competition have dramatically changed the equation.

Sections (2):Editorials, Opinion
Categories (2):Editorials, Opinions

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Sid Saltfork wrote on August 20, 2012 at 1:08 pm

The end result is that CAT continues to make big profits; and hands out bonuses, and raises to management while the employees slip further down from the middle class.  The local businesses struggle with sales due to the workers not spending wages in order to pay for increased health insurance, and loss of raises.  The richer get richer; and the middle class becomes poorer.  The news media who have vested interests in corporate profits influence the public that unionism is damaging to the country's best interest. 

History has shown that a balance between rampant greed, and poverty must be maintained.  Without the balance, social upheavals happen.  Once they happen; they cannot be stopped until they wear out.  If the middle class slips on down to the working poor, it is going to happen here.

read the DI wrote on August 20, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Right on. The Fourth Estate's role to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable has no place at the Snooze-Gazette.