Workers at an Illinois plant for the mega manufacturer Caterpillar have been on strike for a month after rejecting a concession-heavy contract proposed by the company. Yesterday, workers overwhelmingly rejected a second Caterpillar offer, by a vote of 504–116.
According to union officials, the contract “provided no raises, eliminated the defined benefits pension program, weakened seniority rights and required machinists to pay higher contributions for health care.” All of this, at a time when the company is making record profits. In fact, Fortune Magazine recently said the company is “crushing it” when it comes to profitability.
At the same time that it is refusing to give its workers a fair raise, the company saw fit to increase its CEOs pay by 60 percent:
The annual compensation of Caterpillar Inc.’s chairman and chief executive rose 60 percent in 2011, as the company posted a record revenue of $60.1 billion.
Douglas Oberhelman earned $16.9 million in 2011, a figure that includes salary, bonuses, stock and option awards and retirement plan contributions. Oberhelman pay increase, which was tied to the company’s performance, included a $4.9 million cash payment, an 81 percent increase from his 2010 cash award. His base salary increased to $1.4 million from $1.1 million in 2010.
“The practice of raising executive compensation to obscene levels while making it harder for working families to pay for basic medical expenses is impossible to justify at a company as successful as Caterpillar,” said International Association of Machinists President Tom Buffenbarger.