Caterpillar: Inching Toward A Strike?

The United Auto Workers announced on Sept. 9 that 95% of its 17,000 members working for Caterpillar have authorized a strike of the maker of construction equipment. While such a vote is a standard step in contract talks, the move heightens the drama around the already troubled negotiations. UAW Secretary-Treasurer Bill Casstevens says the vote is a "clear demonstration" of rank-and-file support for the union. Caterpillar and the UAW are in sharp disagreement over wage hikes and the amount of health coverage the company should provide. A strike, it's beginning to seem, is a real possibility: So far, Caterpillar and the union, whose contract expires on Sept. 30, haven't been able even to agree on where to meet.

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