The Caterpillar Corp. is enjoying record-breaking profits. By all accounts, they are going to see a profit this year of over $69 billion.
Company CEO Doug Oberhelman saw a huge increase in his pay due to this record-breaking year. His base salary, $1,429,505, will increase to $16,902,023 thanks to stock options and bonuses.
Meanwhile, out on the road at the Joliet Caterpillar plant, men and women are wondering about their just reward. Striking machinists from Local 851 are into their fourth month without a contract and no contract talks on the horizon.
Caterpillar says that their last contract offer was their final one -- take it or leave it. A six-year contract with no raise, not even a cost of living adjustment, and no pension credit for the entire six years of the agreement. During that same time period, employee contributions to their health-care package will triple.
Caterpillar is the largest manufacturer of construction and mining equipment in the world. They are a Fortune 500 company that has its stockholders smiling and their workers asked to take the crumbs of whatever is left over.
This really has come down to a battle of David against Goliath, corporate America waging war on the middle-class families that helped companies like Caterpillar see their record-breaking profits.
You would think that Caterpillar would be proud of what these workers have done and repay them for their sweat and loyality. But Caterpillar is delivering a different message, and that is one of greed. They are telling these men and women, we don't care about your sweat, we don't care about the many years you have given to build what we are today. We simply do not care about you, period.
If Caterpillar is able to bust this union, then they will have no competition. Workers will no longer have a say on work safety rules, the right to a fair and livable wage, the right to a decent a health-care package and the right to retire in dignity. Workers will no longer have a voice, and will be under the threat of "take what we offer to you or there's the door."
These brave men and women are fighting for all workers. And being a member of organized labor myself, these men and women should be regarded as heroes of the middle class.
Yet these men and women are being cast as the enemy. And those benefiting from the corporate greed laugh all the way to the bank.