The US code of federal regulation (310) defines labor disputes asany grievances raised by employees concerning wages, hours, rates ofpay or other terms and conditions of employment. s havea long history and have been a common part of many organizations inthe US. Of importance however is coming up with amicable resolutionsthat help employees get their justice served in case theorganizations fail to meet their demands. s also fightfor employees and ensure that their rights prevail according toHolley (43). To understand labor disputes, this paper will review aprominent company in the US.
Nature of business organization
CAT is a well-recognized brand name in the globe. It is a companythat deals with heavy equipment manufacture, which is used forconstruction or mining purposes. At a time when construction andmodern developments is part of a growing world, strong machineriesand equipments for construction become paramount. They are a muchneeded resource and every construction including buildings and roadsneed the services of an established and well pronounced company likeCAT. CAT inc. is also home to many brands whose roles are supportingit to grow and achieve its enterprise goals (CAT website). The brandsinclude CAT financial, CAT reman, SEM, Siwei, Solar Turbines, Turnerpower train systems, Unit rig amongst other great brands(CATERPILLAR’S website). With all this brands, CAT can be describedas a successful organization, which offers numerous job opportunitiesto people in US and globally.
CAT has been making progress for more than eight and a half decadesnow through driving sustainable change in every part of the world.The renowned company started in 1873, in San Fransisco through afamed cable car system. The next several decades saw it go throughmodifications, branch, grow, create new lines and innovativelydevelop into a famous manufacture of construction and miningequipment company.
Vision and mission statement
CAT has been founded on making sustainable progress possible. Since1952, the foundation dedicated itself transforming many communitiesthrough its work and where it lives. They have championed emergencyrelief, educational and environmental programs to support thecommunity. Their mission is turning the spiral route of poverty intoa prosperity path through investing in those who prove to yield thebest results mainly girls and women. They believe in empowering andeducating girls as well as raising enthusiasm to help betteropportunities like leadership for girls and women.
They believe that their work success should contribute to thequality of life through prosperity, sustainability and helping thecommunities where they live.
CAT is committed to sustainable development which means leveragingtechnology and innovation in order to increase productivity, efficacywith less environmental impact. They also hope to help theircustomers do the same through enabling businesses become moreproductive by providing services and products that utilize resourceseffectively. They know that it all starts with them and theiroperations then their vision is passed on to their customers. CATbelieves that the most successful companies in the coming decadeswill be those that integrate with sustainability in their corebusinesses.
Causes of dispute
Despite having an exceptional history and vision, mission strategy,CAT has battled with many labor disputes. CAT as a large company thatemploys many people in different regions, it is not unlikely for theneeds and pleas of all employees to be unfulfilled. The minute thatemployees feel their rights are being trampled over by employers,they take action to show their managers that they deserve bettertreatment. For years, CAT has battled with such disputes in differentbranches with the most recent one being at the Joliet caterpillarplant.
In 2012, CAT faced a strike that lasted for almost four monthsopening room for labor dispute once again in the famous company.Workers of local 851 international associations of machinists andemployees in aerospace demanded a pay rise and reduced cost of healthcare premiums for almost 800 employees in Joliet. The company wasasked to honor seniority rights as it took to note the strike.
Angry strikers tried shaming the managers and few workers who crossedthe line through shouting and heckling even a sandwich delivery carthat got on their way according to Schaper (1). Cars or trucksturning off the busy road onto the caterpillar plant in Joliet IIIwhich is a long drive saw union workers picket a line scream saying“scab scab.”From their actions it was quiet evident that theworkers were angry and demanded for their rights at all costs. Thestrike is a test case for US labor relations, it will determine howthe company will move on from yet another labor dispute argues Tarter(1).
Principles involved in negotiations
The Joliet strike turned political at some point attracting theIllinois Governor Quinn in August. He made a $10000 food funddonation for the strikers and stated that defeat rarely followsunited people. Quinn addressing the associated press said he was lessconcerned about CAT’s view of his gesture (Barett 1).
Bruno spoke on behalf of the machinist union and claimed that theproposed contracts were awful and they would not settle for them. The negotiations between CAT this time round would be tough.
A letter was written to CAT’s CEO Oberhelman with regard to thelongstanding dispute of striking workers in the Joliet plant. In theletter, Mr. Douglas Oberhelman was addressed on behalf of the globalunion which represents more than 50million employees in 140 statesglobally. He was told that industrial global union is arepresentation of workers across the continent involved in mining,manufacturing, energy and sector related to international machinistassociations and aerospace workers. Global union expressed theirsentiments as deep outrage on learning the unjust and antiunionactions that CAT has been carrying out in Joliet plant Illinois. Sadstatistics revealed that despite CAT earning in 2011 $4.9 b profit,and better results in 2012 the company still insisted a wage freezeof six years and a pension freeze. Increases in the health carecoverage have also not been left out for most of the Jolietproduction workers. All this have been imposed on Joliet employeeswith an aim f making them competitive. The GU told CAT CEO, that thisbehavior was unacceptable and they would fully support the rejectionof the proposed six year deal that CAT offered. According to GU, thedeal lacked components that employees wanted addressed likeescalating health costs and undercut senior rules. Finally they urgedthe CEO to engage with IAM for just and fair resolutions on thismatter not forgetting to remind him of the contribution of hisskilled workers who had seen him become amongst the most profitablecompany’s in 2012. Jyrki Raina the general secretary (IndustriGU 1)wrote the letter in solidarity of the Global Union.
Details of resolution
Contract negotiations involved steelworkers, machinists union whorepresent employees from the mining company as well. Local 1343members present did not like the proposed contract and it was voteddown.
To solve the labor dispute, Caterpillar offered a six year strategyfor employees that was rejected. According to the labor union thedeal was not approved as it was a deal lacking the crucial aspectsthe employees wanted. The deal did not address increased health carecosts for employees and failed to remove the undercut seniority ruleslike extra salaries. A second offer that included signing a bonus onethousand did not also go well leaving caterpillar little room fornegotiation with employees. Sean former employee for 16 years in theplant felt that caterpillar’s competitive salaries on the unionworkers are a major problem for the organization. Despite caterpillarknowing what the problem was they still were reluctant to address itfrom the root cause. This aggravated the issue and made resolution acomplex process. As time flew, the plant was risking losing itsprofits and the employees were not willing to go back to work untiltheir needs were met. To some extent, the employees were justified toraise labor concerns as caterpillar grew from strength to richesthrough the hard labor of employees yet failed to increase their payfor reasons like they have minimal room for negotiation to avoidunfair labor charge (Tim, machinist president). The resolutionprocess was tough before the company deciding that it has exhaustedall it wanted to and cannot come to a settlement. After thenegotiations, the company’s focus would be continuing to operatethe Joliet firm in a productive, efficient and safe manner.
The productivity of the firm was questioned following the company’sstrategy of replacing workers. The fact that Caterpillar was havingtrouble recruiting qualified employees before the strike left manywondering how an agreement to replace workers would make thingsright. Since the company resolved to replace employees, they shouldalso be ready for challenges like lack the skill levels that theplant needs to grow and necessary qualifications to keep it runningsmoothly. The replacement employees after sometime will also demandfor labor rights like their fellow employees because every employee’sright is to enjoy benefits like adequate compensation and healthbenefits that they afford. Even though the strike at the Joliet plantdoes not affect production as such, cohesion and togetherness ofemployees will definitely be affected. Obrien who has worked in thefirm since its beginning in 1974 sadly stated that, when he washired, at that time he enjoyed the joy and unity of working withpeople who were more like family. Today, the constant replacement,resignation due to unmet demands of employees and sudden recruitmentshas turned the firm into just a number of workers. The unity andtogetherness of working together and having the grievances addressedis long gone history. This implies that CAT has to some extent failedto solve labor disputes amicably.
My opinion on negotiations conducted
Numerous attempts by employees to have their views heard failed toget enough attention from the company’s management. I do not thinkthat this issue was effectively dealt with and addressed. Mostemployees were discontent and did not feel like their opinion countedor was valued. Little or no room for negotiations with employees whoraised their grievances was available. This left them with an optionof resigning, quitting or having to put up with the terms issued bythe company. Working for a company that has not fully addressed thelabor challenges that employees are going through is challenging. Itlimits workers rights and contradicts labor laws which entitleemployees to rights like freedom of expression (Holley 43). The USdepartment of labor summarizes major laws for department of laborincluding wages and hours, workers compensation and mine safety andhealth. In Caterpillar’s case, applying the workers compensationand health law would have significantly helped deal with arisingissues in the company. The workers chose to strike as they felt thatthey needed an increase in their compensation. One of the formeremployees reported that workers were angry because despite thecompany reporting a record of profits it was treating the employeesbadly citing recent salary increase on executive and non-unionpersonnel (Tarter, 2012).
In the event that employers do not take note of the grievances beingraised by employees and fail to address or rectify their mistakes,employees feel unwanted. Such a company can be termed as one thatviolates the worker’s rights. Failing to address employeegrievances limits employee’s productivity and growth. The supportof the global union was paramount to managing this labor dispute andplayed a great role in airing the concerns of machinists in theJoliet firm.
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