U.S. Caterpillar workers reject contract offer, strike continues

Strike nears one-month mark as 82 per cent reject company's offer
|labour-reporter.com|Last Updated: 05/30/2012

(Reuters) — Striking workers at a Caterpillar Inc. plant in Joliet, Illinois, rejected the company's latest contract offer on May 30, an official with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) said.

A large majority — 82 percent — of the roughly 800 workers at the factory, which makes hydraulic components and other systems for Caterpillar loaders and mining trucks, voted to reject the contract because proposed pay raises were too small and it included higher health-care costs, union official Steve Jones said.

The workers plan to continue the strike they began on May 1. The world's largest maker of earth-moving equipment has continued to run the facility using management-level workers since the strike began.

Caterpillar officials had no immediate comment on the worker vote.

Talks between the union and the Peoria, Illinois-based company have broken off since the strike was called. Jones said the union offered to reopen negotiations after the vote but was rebuffed by management.

"We told them we're available to meet when we notified them of the results, and they said if our position hasn't changed, there is no need," Jones said.

The strike follows a labour showdown last year between Caterpillar and workers represented by the Canadian Auto Workers union at a locomotive plant in London, Ont. Those workers rejected a Caterpillar offer and the company ended up closing the plant.

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