Workers Uniting Kicks off Collaboration at Caterpillar

August 14, 2012 – Workers Uniting member unions Unite and the United Steelworkers (USW) met today to begin collaboration at common employer Caterpillar.
Caterpillar is a U.S. based machinery manufacturing company. The company employs nearly 4,000 Unite members and 1,200 USW members.
Members and leaders from all levels of USW and Unite discussed their representation at Caterpillar and recent challenges with this company.
Unite, which has had reasonably good relations with Caterpillar in the UK, discussed in detail the problems related to the use of agency workers in the company and the need to organise these workers.

USW discussed recent and ongoing labor disputes that Caterpillar has provoked with multiple unions in North America. (See IAM Members Fight Caterpillar on Wage Freeze, Caterpillar to Unions: Drop Dead, and Caterpillar Strike: In the US, It's Open Season on Unions).
It became apparent in the meeting that Caterpillar has adopted a more aggressive approach to labor relations in North America than it has in Europe.
Unite discussed workplace protections that are mandated by European law, such as information and Consultation laws and European Works Councils, that have helped to protect European Caterpillar employees against some of the company’s aggressive tactics used in North America.
Unite and USW participants agreed that it was now vital to continue building their relationship at Caterpillar.

Two reasons were given for this.
One, union support from the workers and union members in the UK will help prevent Caterpillar from undermining union power at Caterpillar in the U.S.

Second, defending unions in the U.S. will help prevent Caterpillar from adopting a similarly aggressive approach to unions in the UK and Europe.
Concrete plans were developed for continuing to build the relationship between Unite and USW at Caterpillar in the coming months.  

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