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Mayor Joins Striking Cat Workers on Picket Line

Tom Giarrante's move comes one day after the removal of controversial billboard ads seeking to hire workers to replace the striking machinists.

One day after ads seeking replacement workers for were removed from electronic billboards in the city, Joliet Mayor Tom Giarrante was out walking the picket lines with the rank-and-file.

Giarrante, a former union member from his days as a city firefighter, said he sympathizes with the plight of the 780 Cat workers, who walked off their jobs in May in a dispute over a new contract.

"The fire department went through (a strike) in '77. It's a tough thing," Giarrante said. "The longer you go, the harder it gets."

Giarrante would not confirm he or anyone at city hall pressured billboard sign owner Impact Outdoor to remove the ads. But he did acknowledge that emotions were running high Tuesday when angry Cat union members questioned the appropriateness of the ads running on signs also carrying city of Joliet messages.

The perception, they said, was the city supported Caterpillar, Giarrante said. By 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, the ads had been removed, he said.

The billboards do not belong to the city, nor is the property on which they sit city land, Giarrante said. has a certain number of public notices appearing on the billboards -- advertising such things as Taste of Jolilet and amber alerts for missing children -- because officials negotiated it as part of the variance needed before the signs could be erected, he said.

Striking workers set up along Route 6 near the Cat plant said they appreciated the public pressure that helped persuade Impact Outdoor to remove the Caterpillar ads, which the union sees as a pressure tactic to force them to accept what they deem to be an unfair contract proposal.

Timothy O'Brien, president of International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 851, said the mayor walking the picket line Wednesday and on one earlier occasion has helped boost striker morale.

Despite the flap over the ads, O'Brien said the is more a sham designed to scare strikers than a serious threat.

"You can't just have people come in off the street and do those jobs," he said. "You have to have a specific set of skills and training to do that work."

The union maintains that Caterpillar provoked the battle by presenting only , both of which would have frozen the salaries of first-tier workers with longer tenures while upping health insurance costs, O'Brien said. The company also wants to end the employees' pension in favor of a 401(k)-type investment plan, he said.

The bigger concern is a provision that would allow the company to move workers to different jobs and plants without any say from the union or the employees affected, he said. That move would essentially gut any authority the union would have to represent its members in unfair work situations, he said.

A call to Caterpillar headquarters in Peoria for comment was not returned Wednesday afternoon.

cjhmarine July 08, 2012 at 10:40 AM
Susie, working a job that someone else refuses to do is called working a job. Job openings can happen due to quitting, firing, or strikes. When someone refuses to work and others work in their place you cant blame them. I got my job because someone got fired for harassment, Do i care NO because he made that choice to not perform well at work and get fired. AS far as your taking food out of somebodys mouth Theirs an old biblical verse 2 Thessalonians 3:10 - For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. [NKJV] The phrase "will not work," means making a decision not to. Thus the passage speaks of someone who is able to work, but refuses to out of laziness OR SELFISHNESS. The teaching does not apply to someone who is incapable of holding down a job through no fault of their own, or one who seeks work and cannot find it.
M&M July 08, 2012 at 01:11 PM
Lets see, cj refers to the bible ( new international version 1984 ), Susie refers to an author of fiction, and he was a fine author, but if you really want to see what kind of man he was and stood for, I suggest you look him up on the internet and see for yourself, you may be surprised.
Luke July 08, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Susie Williams. You are quoting a man who was a socialist and a racist. Fine role model for your cause. The unions are the new home of the communist party so we should not be suprised. This derogatory and insulting definition was adopted by the GOONS who run the unions and lead followers like you around by th nose. I know how unions operate, I have seen the consequenses of their intimidation tactics. I've seen the destruction of property, the physical threats, and scare tactics towards the customers of businesses who dare to cross them. They are low lifes and thugs. That may not apply to all members but it does apply to the corrupt and unlawful people who run the unions. If you think for one minute they care about the individal member you are mistaken. They care about your dues money and the political power the can buy with it.
Dense much? July 08, 2012 at 02:48 PM
There is a big difference between a salary employee who's job is constantly evolving and a hourly employee that is doing the same job, day-in and day-out, not doing any better or any more thanks to an outmoded union... I don't feel sorry for someone that is still getting a cost of living raise while many others saw their income remain flat. I'll bet none of the union officials are living off of only a "Strike pay" income. And Joliet was wrong pressuring the billboard company into taking the signs down...And if you think that Mayor Tom Giarrante didn't pressure them into doing so, you just might be a moron....Giarrante is a typical politician,,.A LIAR!
Scotty July 08, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Susie I was a union member at one time. I left after seeing the way they operate. They would come to job sites and intimidate and threaten physical harm to non union construction workers. They would slash tires and damage vehicles,and follow people home to send a message. They would destroy the work done on a job after everyone left. I have seen them pound on cars and threaten workers entering a building to work. Don't tell me non union wokers are stealing from the mouths of others. They are trying to do whats right and earn a living. The unions have a long and documened history of violence and intimidation. Go ahead and hang out with your union friends. The friends you choose says alot about the kind of person you are.

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