Cat's Workers Need To Breakout Of Old Patterns

Your portrayal of Caterpillar was colorful but neither accurate nor fair ("Cat is purring, but they're hissing on the floor," Top of the News, May 16).

Caterpillar employees represented by the United Auto Workers (UAW) are receiving earnings and benefits among the best in manufacturing worldwide. W-2 earnings of the average hourly employee totaled $49,000 last year; plus they received first-dollar health coverage, improved pensions, and guaranteed job security through at least September, 1997.

Furthermore, the quality of products built in our UAW-represented plants is at an all-time high, indicative of a workforce that remains committed to excellence and customer service. Finally, for more than two years, UAW leaders have not allowed members to vote on the company's contract offer and have refused to put forth an offer of their own.

The real issue is one that UAW leaders don't like to discuss--their insistence on an outdated "pattern" contract. Because our major competitors are European and Japanese, it makes no sense to link Caterpillar's contract to a "pattern" set by domestic automobile and farm-implement manufacturers.

Gerald S. Flaherty

Group President

Caterpillar Inc.

Peoria, Ill.

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