THE REAL STRUGGLE AT CAT: BOTH SIDES SOUND OFF
For a business magazine that promotes U.S. industry innovation and competitiveness, you failed badly in your article entitled "Much ado about pettiness" (Top of the News, July 4), concerning Caterpillar and the United Auto Workers. I'm sure the union thanks you for an article that makes it sound like the primary issue at stake is a big, rich company too stingy to give its union workers a decent pay raise and too egotistical to let its workers wear slogans critical of company management.
A pivotal national battle between an outdated, regressive, destructive union and a progressive, highly efficient, modern company is currently focused on Peoria, Ill. It is a fight for the competitiveness of American companies in a world marketplace. It is a struggle against the failed workplace-entitlement mentality that has already ruined the economies of much of Europe.
Most of us in Peoria hope that Caterpillar does whatever it takes to continue its world-class performance.
David C. Wright
I disagree with your statement that Cat won a hands-down victory when we ended the 51/2-month strike in 1992. The workers are more determined today than ever to stand together to resolve the unfair labor practice complaints and then move on to the other issues.
Cat might contend that the average worker earned $49,000 last year, with overtime. The only problem with that is under the "final offer" there would be very little overtime pay. Cat expects most everyone to work an alternate work schedule of four 10-hour days or three 12-hour days at the straight-time hourly rate. Also, most new hires and recalls would earn $7 to $8.50 an hour, with minimal benefits.
Caterpillar is still trying to convince everyone that the union demands a John Deere pattern agreement. Truth is, the union hasn't talked pattern agreement for some time.
Barry L. Koicuba
President, Local 786
United Auto Workers