Striking Caterpillar Workers Approve Contract says this about the details of the contract and also quotes local Union leader Tim O'Brien about the deal:
"JOLIET, Ill.—Striking workers at a Caterpillar Inc.
factory here voted in favor of a new 6-year labor agreement, a move
that ends a job action lasting more than three months, union officials
said on Friday. . . .
Friday's vote marks a win for Caterpillar, known as a hard
negotiator, with a deal that freezes the hourly pay of veteran workers,
ends the company's defined benefit pension plan, and shifts more of the
burden of health care costs to employees.
Workers will receive a sweetened, one-time ratification bonus to
$3,100, up from $1,000 initially offered. Workers hired before May 2005
would receive no hourly pay increase; those hired after that date would
receive a flat 3% pay increase.
In place of the defined benefit pension, the company would offer a 401(k) style defined contribution plan to employees.
The strike was viewed as a test of factory workers' willingness to
fight downward pressure on wages and benefits at a time when
unemployment remains high and strikes have become rare.
Timothy O'Brien, local president of the IAM, said
workers learned only this morning that Caterpillar had agreed to raise a
ratification bonus to $3,100 from $1,000 per worker. He said that
last-minute concession seemed to have tipped the balance. Mr. O'Brien
recommended against accepting the latest offer on the ground that
workers were being asked to give up cost-of-living raises, pay more for
health care, cede seniority rights and switch to a less-attractive
"I also understand the members' plight," Mr. O'Brien said. Many
feared they would soon lose their cars or homes and deplete all their
savings. "I get it," he said. "We're going back to work.". . .
Caterpillar faced down strikes by the United Auto Workers in the
1990s and forced that union to make concessions, including sharply lower
pay for newer workers. Earlier this year, Caterpillar closed a
locomotive plant in London, Ontario, after workers refused to accept a
pay cut of about 50%.
The company has gradually reduced its exposure to unions by opening
plants in states with low union support and using more outside
contractors. At the end of 2011, about 53% of Caterpillar's 27,000
production workers were covered by union contract agreements. Most of
those belonged to the UAW, which ratified a six-year contract in March
2011 after unusually smooth negotiations."