Caterpillar union workers give UAW power to call a strike as contract talks begin

Excavator booms, adorned with the Caterpillar Inc. "CAT" logo are displayed at the Milton CAT...
Excavator booms, adorned with the Caterpillar Inc. "CAT" logo are displayed at the Milton CAT dealership in Londonderry, N.H., Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020.(Charles Krupa | AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 8:02 PM CST
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PEORIA (25 News Now) - Members of the United Auto Workers Union at Caterpillar have overwhelmingly decided to give their leaders the authority to call a strike against the company in case contract negotiations don’t lead to an agreement.

The UAW said Monday that more than 98% of its membership at workplaces including in the Peoria area voted to authorize a strike if needed.

Contract talks are underway, and the heavy equipment manufacturer has created a web page to communicate its view about how talks are proceeding and what might happen if the union decides to strike.

On a page detailing contingency planning, the company said it will continue operating and serving customers during a strike.

“It makes good business sense to plan for any scenario – including a work stoppage or strike – that may impact operations and our customer commitments. This is a normal part of our process before any negotiation,” the company said.

Caterpillar said “main table” negotiations on the “Central Agreement” started Jan. 23 with both sides exchanging proposals.

The current contract with Caterpillar expires March 1.

The negotiations follow a recent strike against Caterpillar competitor John Deere, in which union workers eventually earned raises plus thousands of dollars in ratification bonuses.