The Chicago Employment Law Blog

Updates: Caterpillar Strikers Cave, CTU Issues Strike Notice

Though the outcome was unfortunate for the workers at Caterpillar's hydraulic equipment manufacturing plant, it wasn't exactly unexpected. Previously we covered the labor disturbance and reflected on the strength of Caterpillar's bargaining position.

That strength seems to have paid off for a company that recently posted record profits, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. A new six-year labor contract includes a one-time 3 percent pay raise for newer, lesser-paid Tier 2 employees. All employees will receive a $3,100 signing bonus.

According to the website Chicagoist, the Caterpillar deal also more than doubles health care payments, moves employees from a pension system to a 401(k) and provides no raises or cost of living adjustments to veteran Tier I employees.

Caterpillar's Tier I employees average about $26.37 per hour in wages. Tier 2 employees average $17.34. About 100 employees out of 780 on strike had already crossed the picket line. The majority of the remaining members capitulated and voted to return to work.

Meantime, Caterpillar is making record profits and pays its CEO $17 million per year.

In another labor negotiation update, the Chicago Teachers Union voted to authorize a 10-day strike notice, reports FOX Chicago. This will allow Chicago teachers to go on strike in early September if last-minute negotiations fail to resolve the outstanding issues. The main issue of contention, a longer school day, has already been resolved.

Illinois state law requires a number of steps to be taken before teachers can strike. In addition to the already completed steps of union members authorizing a strike and participating in a mediation process, the CTU must give notice of its intent to strike. After a 10-day waiting period, the teachers can then officially go on strike. However, the notice given doesn't guarantee a strike -- it simply makes it an option if the final round of negotiations fails.

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