Some Caterpillar Workers Cross Picket Line has the updated story:
"JOLIET, Ill.—After nearly three months, a strike by Caterpillar Inc. workers here has become a war of attrition as the number of union members crossing the picket line gradually rises.
the 780 or so workers represented by the International Association of
Machinists and Aerospace Workers, or IAM, the union said Tuesday it had
confirmed that 79 had gone back to work.
Caterpillar, a global maker of
construction and mining equipment, said 95 had returned. Two months ago,
only about a dozen had returned to work at the plant, which makes
The outcome matters far beyond Joliet, a city of 147,000 where
casinos and medical facilities long ago replaced factories as the most
reliable sources of jobs. "There are a lot of people watching this strike," said Timothy O'Brien, president of the IAM's branch in Joliet. That is partly because Caterpillar, which will release its
second-quarter earnings Wednesday, is known for taking a hard line
against unions and setting trends in labor relations. Few strikes have
erupted in the U.S. in recent years, despite downward pressure on
manufacturing wages and benefits. A victory by the IAM here might
embolden other angry workers to resist.
Mr. O'Brien said in an interview that the number of workers crossing
the picket line wasn't alarming.
"To have that few who have crossed
shows the solidarity that we truly have," he said. In public, the
strikers revile colleagues who have returned to work as backstabbers.
Privately, some of their comments are more nuanced. "You've got to do
what you've got to do to support your family," one striker said quietly.
Another said he might return if that was the only way to avoid
Caterpillar has continued to make hydraulic gear at the plant by
using managers and temporary workers. In recent weeks, the company has
advertised for more temporary workers. "I think they're trying to get
rid of us," said Joe Johnson, a 44-year-old striker who has nearly 19
years of experience at Caterpillar and earns about $26 an hour. He has
been renovating his kitchen in recent weeks and plans to start seeking
another employer soon. "Even for less money, if they made you feel like
you were needed, I would definitely take a new job," he said.`
Yet Mr. Johnson, who occasionally plays the guitar in a local
blues-rock band called Valid Proof, still had a slim hope that
Caterpillar might improve its offer. "It wouldn't take much to get us
back," he said.
At least there's some action on the part of the strikers.
The question now is how long the union leadership can continue to convince workers to stay away from their jobs.
Emotionalism is not a good thing in these situations.
I hope it ends soon.
If it does, the strike will be over.