Workers at a Caterpillar plant in Joliet, Illinois, have been on strike to protest their company’s attempt to freeze wages and pensions for several years. The company is demanding these concessions despite making billions of dollars in profits and paying its CEO $17 million.
Last week, Gov. Pat Quinn (D-IL) visited the striking workers, lending them financial support in the form of a $10,000 check:
Striking Caterpillar employees received a show of support Friday, when Gov. Pat Quinn visited the Joliet picket line to meet workers and donate $10,000 to a food fund set up for their benefit.
“We believe that when somebody in our state needs a helping hand, we help them out,” Quinn said to the cheering crowd. “As governor of our state, I wanted to make sure that, tomorrow, this big food drive here gets a good start. So, I gave a $10,000 check.”
Members of the International Association of Machinists Local 851 have been on strike for over three months. Friday’s visit was Quinn’s first and it followed up an appearance by U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) earlier in the week.
In recent decades, rates of unionization fell alongside middle-class incomes, leading to skyrocketing income inequality. The pay of executives was detached from that of workers, with the typical worker currently having to work 244 years in order to earn what the average CEO makes in one year.
Now, companies like Caterpillar are trying to exacerbate those trends, cutting wages and pensions even when they’re flush with cash. In addition to furthering the gap between the wealthiest Americans and the rest of the population, actions such as these will increase poverty and lower the standard of living for America’s workers.