Caterpillar hiring replacement workers in Joliet

June 11, 2012 (JOLIET, Ill.)

Now Caterpillar hopes to find replacement workers to keep the plant operating.

The company says this temporary fix is needed to ride out the current labor dispute and are looking for folks with machinist experience.

Those interested in applying have to cross a picket line.

Striking workers have been holding a picket line at Caterpillar's plant near Joliet since walking off last month.

Workers totaling 780 of The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers rejected Caterpillar's contract offer.

"All's we're asking is for a fair contract," Bill McCarl said. "You've got a corporation making billions of dollars and they refuse to give the people who do your fine tune work anything. They want to do cutbacks."

A Caterpillar spokesman says they made their best offer.

With no new negotiations scheduled, Caterpillar has begun advertising to hire temporary workers.

"We are taking the Joliet contingency plan to the next level in the hiring of these temporary replacements to give us the ability to stay competitive in the long run," said a Caterpillar spokesman Rusty Dunn.

Dunn said the Joliet plant makes hydraulic components and systems for their mining and excavating machines and said the company is focusing on meeting production deadlines with its contingency crew and the new temporary workers.

"The mission now is not the negotiations themselves but running Joliet safely, efficiently, productively and we're doing that," he said.

Striking workers are not surprised by the company's plan to hire temporary workers, but contend getting them back to work would be the most efficient and productive.

"The trainers and the ones who have been training them for years up until the strike are us," Bill Ronna said. "Who's gonna train these folks? These are intricate machines. Every machine has its quirks."

Caterpillar won't say how many workers they will hire, but those hired will not stay on when and if there is resolution with the union.

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