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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.

M&M June 27, 2012 at 11:51 AM
Caring Citizen, what is the deciding factor, ability, or seniority, when it comes to working overtime? What should be the deciding factor? Also, calling some of your fellow strikers names isn't going to help the cause.
Caring Citizen June 27, 2012 at 04:57 PM
First, working overtime in the past has always been offered 1st to the qualified person in the area who has worked the lowest OT hours, then to the next & so on, mandatory OT is done the same way. And I did not call my fellow workers butt kissers or boot lickers. I said we should not have to gain expertise in that in order to earn a good living. I have nothing but respect for my fellow strikers who have stood on that line & held their ground. IF I were going to call anyone names it would be those who have chosen to cross our picket line and go back to work while the rest of us stand strong and fight to get them a fair contract.
M&M June 27, 2012 at 07:01 PM
You said 6% crossed the line. I read the total votes when you turned down the last offer, and it looked like 100+ people didn't bother to vote. Why is that?
Caring Citizen June 27, 2012 at 07:27 PM
Don't really know. Evidently those people didn't care too much about the results. I'm sure there were a few out of town or unable to attend for whatever reason. In every election, even public elections, there are always some who don't bother to vote. In the national elections in 2010, only 37.8% of the registered voters turned out. In 2008, a presidential election only drew 56.8% of the registered voters. About 94% (584) of our voting membership rejected the first proposal Cat offered. This means that over 80% of our membership voted. Compared to national elections we did pretty good. If you can explain why 43.2% of the registered voters in this country didn't even bother to vote in the last presidential election, I think you will have your answer.
M&M June 27, 2012 at 08:33 PM
Can't compare. Public elections always have historically low turnouts.You vote, you don't vote,things don't change for awhile. Contract vote, your life changes immediately if the contract is voted down. You may be right, people just didn't care too much about the results.
cjhmarine June 28, 2012 at 07:16 AM
I have no compassion for the working conditions as far as you working in high heat and hard job. I have worked in the warehouse environment before, It comes with the job and again if its so hard and you dont like the "swampass" as i in the desert have had plenty of times and are not happy with your pay then leave and find another job more suited for you. This subject is simple and easy . DONT LIKE IT GET ANOTHER JOB,
Caring Citizen June 28, 2012 at 06:24 PM
My comment was in response to yours talking about how we wouldn't last in the military. We stand up to tough conditions too, and as I pointed out many of our members have served in the armed forces. I have invested 17 years in my job and do not want to just walk away & get another job. This is where I chose to place my abilities for a career. Again. I am not complaining about the pay for myself, although I think we should keep our COLA. But I want to see fair treatment for the newer people as well. I thought in the military they taught you to look out for your brothers & sisters in arms. This is not about me, but about US.
cjhmarine June 29, 2012 at 05:02 AM
Correct we are taught to look out for each other but also not to be a blue falcon, 17 years is a long time but ya sometimes gotta just change. it sucks but i dont care what anyone says, when there is 23 million people unemployed you just cant strike, if they were in the military they would know what tact means, waiting for the right time and the right situation and then going for it. when 23 million people will take your job in a heartbeat, the economys bad, and your already making a decent living i think it would not be a good time for a strike, now maybe down the road when things change and everybodys in a better situation but now is not the time .
Contingency Worker June 29, 2012 at 06:50 AM
The temporary shutdowns at the other facilities were planned in advance of the strike, and are due to drops in demand. The quality and velocity at the plant are the same or better than before the strike. My contingency job does not require a skill set (high school degree at best), the replacement workers learned it in a few hours, and are already performing above the union average. You guys are cheap labor getting rocket science pay. Go CAT! !
rich June 29, 2012 at 02:03 PM
@contingency worker. I have an inside source in the Joliet plant. He didn't speak about the velocity, but he said the quality SUCKS. Returns, rework and scrap is the norm in the gear pump and valve areas. This is because their new workforce has little or no skills in machining. Also hiring temp help such as you with no skill set, and little education. Typically when Cat hires they require extensive testing and a very good education to get in the door, drug test, and physical. They normally want intelligent and well educated applicants. And they generally got them to work for average pay and benefits., If there new contract changes take effect they will no longer attract this caliber of people. Now being desperate all these requirements went out the door. All they have in there now is bodies that are pushing metal out the door, but they really have no clue as to what they are doing. If you weren't a slacker you would probably further your education and develop a skillset. Good Luck.
M&M June 30, 2012 at 01:03 AM
rich, I noticed you said a very good education, you didn't say anything about a degree, so I assume you mean a high school diploma. Then you said they had bodies that are pushing metal out the door, but they have no clue what they are doing. Yes, there is a learning curve, and they just didn't put bodies in there and say ok, you run that machine! No, you know they have trainers and support people. Yes maybe some bad parts do get out, but that also happens when you guys were in there, right? Your comment smells of desperation.
Susie Williams July 05, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Not to worry. Most of the dissenters on here are posting from their hotel rooms, after they get done scabbing. Scabs dont have any sense or sympathy for anybody but themselves.
Tony July 05, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Scotty, GM went bankrupt because of poor management and thier policy of giving all the profits to the shareholders and CEO,s and saving nothing for the hard times. How can anyone justify what GM did after they filed bankuptsy, a year later they were giving millions in bonuses to the CEO,s while the retiree,s who had lost all thier stock and some of thier benefits got nothing and at this moment they are investing millions in China and have sold some of thier closed plants in America to China. Before you run your mouth off about the unions, you should know something about the companies you are trying to make the public feel sorry for and Cat is no different.
Scotty July 05, 2012 at 10:29 PM
Scabs? You mean people who care about providing for their families and are willing to work. As opposed to union goons who are more concerned about themslves and soaking a company dry.
Scotty July 05, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Tony, GM didn't file for bankruptcy. They got bailed out by Obama. That was to prevent bankruptcy. If they had gone bankrupt the could have gotten out from under the ridiculas union pension plans that drove them in the ground. Obama used tax dollars to pay back his union friends ad prevented that from happening. The people who got hurt were the investers people who put their savings into stocks and mutual funds that included GM. Dealerships got closed for political reasons and the union stayed intact. If GM had gotten rid of the union dead wieght they would be better off. When a company profits stock holders are supposed to profit also. When the company looses the stock holders loose. The workers get their salary and benifits either way. No risk or them. If you don't know what your talking about you should keep ypur moth shut.
M&M July 05, 2012 at 11:49 PM
I doubt it, they are too busy working and resting, and planning how to spend all that extra money they now have. They are just following orders from their employer. You know, good plans shape good decisions. The people who crossed the line, I think do have sympathy, for their families, and providing for their care, as they are supposed to.
Caring Citizen July 06, 2012 at 03:03 AM
We all care about providing for our families. We are not trying to "soak the company dry". We just want a fair contract. That means some kind of structured wage increases for our newer people, who currently start in the $12 an hour range. We want cost of living increases, minimal as they may be. We want to keep our pensions that many of us have worked long years for, after being promised them as "part of our total rewards package". We want some assurance that when someone's boss wants to get his nephew a spot, or takes a dislike to someone, that we won't lose the good job & shift we have busted our butts for for 15, 20, 30, or moire years, while the nephew or one of the bosses favorites gets that good job and shift, even though they just started. We want to continue to help keep Cat #1 in the world for the best quality. We want them to be the leader and benchmark for other companies. We want the Joliet area to grow & thrive, and other companies to have to compete with Cat's high standards. We want the best for Cat, Joliet, and all the people currently on strike against greed & corruption in high places.
M&M July 06, 2012 at 01:09 PM
Where you use the words greed and corruption in a sentence regarding Cat., I prefer to use the words cost effective and a well run company with a plan.
rich July 06, 2012 at 03:59 PM
@M&M. You obviously have no clue how Cat operates.
M&M July 06, 2012 at 10:18 PM
rich, I asked you a question in another post that you failed to answer, yet you choose to answer my last post with a lame comment. You may work there, but I think its you who has no clue.
Susie Williams July 06, 2012 at 11:50 PM
Since you think scabs "provide" for their families, perhaps you need the definition of a scab. “After God had finished the rattlesnake, the toad, the vampire, He had some awful substance left with which He made a scab. A scab is a two-legged animal with a cork-screw soul, a water-logged brain, a combination backbone of jelly and glue. Where others have hearts, he carries a tumor of rotten principles. When a scab comes down the street, men turn their backs and angels weep in heaven, and the Devil shuts the gates of Hell to keep him out. No man has a right to scab so long as there is a pool of water to drown his carcass in, or a rope long enough to hang his body with. Judas Iscariot was a gentleman compared with a scab. For betraying his master, he had character enough to hang himself. A scab has not. Esau sold his birthright for a mess of pottage. Judas Iscariot sold his Savior for thirty pieces of silver. Benedict Arnold sold his country for a promise of a commission in the British Army. The modern strikebreaker sells his birthright, his country, his wife, his children and his fellow men for an unfulfilled promise from his employer, trust or corporation. Esau was a traitor to himself: Judas Iscariot was a traitor to his God; Benedict Arnold was a traitor to his country; a strikebreaker is a traitor to his God, his country, his wife, his family and his class.”
rich July 07, 2012 at 01:44 AM
@m&m. You are correct bad parts did get out when the IAM workforce was in there, but it was not often. Now with the scab workforce in there it happens frequently. So the lame posts that you make it shows that you really have no clue. Kforce
M&M July 07, 2012 at 10:19 AM
There is a learning curve for them as there were for the strikers when they first started except their learning curve involves a bunch of people learning at once, where the others were more individualized. But the truth is, they will learn as you had to learn and as each day goes by they will also become more and more proficient at their jobs. Some of these will fail, as some of you have failed, but that is to be expected. There is nobody irreplaceable, from machinst to management.
Luke July 07, 2012 at 11:50 AM
What a fine spokes person for your cause. The typical union tactic of attack, name call and hate. Calling people names who care more about their families than some unon boss and his greedy devisive demands.Belittleing people for wanting to work and provide for their children. So typical of the union goon squad.
Susie Williams July 07, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Luke, I can see you do not know your history. The scab definition is from Jack London, celebrated author. Not a goon, as you quote. Nothing wrong with wanting to work. Just dont steal from the mouths of others to try to justify your existence. Plenty of ways to make an honest living.
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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