Caterpillar negotiations to resume

Caterpillar Inc. and United Steelworkers Local 1343 are scheduled to resume negotiations in South Milwaukee on Wednesday.

Local 1343 sent a letter to its 800 South Milwaukee Caterpillar members last week asking them to support the union by wearing USW colors to work on Wednesday.

“We have an opportunity to let Caterpillar management know that we demand a fair contract that makes our jobs, earnings and benefits more secure – not just for ourselves – but for our families and communities,” the letter said.

On Tuesday, the union rejected the company’s proposed six-year labor pact.

The company’s proposal would have frozen workers’ wages for six years and increased their share of payment for health care benefits. The company also has announced plans to lay off 250 to 300 workers in South Milwaukee.

Some workers were also unhappy with Caterpillar’s workforce contingency planning, which had salaried workers training at Milwaukee Area Technical College to replace production employees in case of a strike.

Caterpillar has been negotiating with the union since April 2. This is the first contract negotiation since the facility became part of Caterpillar when it acquired Bucyrus International Inc. in 2011.

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