Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Caterpillar Strategy Has Dixie Look Union Workers Fear Worst

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Caterpillar Strategy Has Dixie Look Union Workers Fear Worst

Article excerpt

Caterpillar factory workers endured a tough 10 days.

First, on Jan. 28, came the news that Caterpillar was opening a new plant way down in South Carolina. Then news of another plant in North Carolina. Then Kentucky. Then Mississippi.

Suddenly, it looked like Caterpillar's future was in Dixie and the union's future was in doubt. Over the last five years, Caterpillar has opened, or announced plans to open, 15 new plants in the United States. Eleven of them are in the South, where unions have little strength. "They say they don't want a company without a union, but they're running away from the union," said Jerry Brown, president of United Auto Workers Local 974 in Caterpillar's Peoria base of operations. Four plants will make small parts now produced in York, Pa. Citing high production costs, Caterpillar is closing its 1,100-worker York plant. Similarly, Caterpillar closed a Canadian plant in 1991 and moved the work to North Carolina. But does that mean Caterpillar management is making a conscious effort to move production south? And will the company end up making its bulldozers and dump trucks solely in the South and overseas, as union officials claim? Gerald Flaherty, a Caterpillar group president, scoffed at such ideas. He pointed out that Caterpillar had about 35 percent of its workers in the Peoria area when company employment reached its peak of 89,000 in 1979. Today, with employment down to 57,000, Caterpillar still has 35 percent of its workers in Peoria. "Caterpillar has been a significant part of Peoria and Illinois communities for many, many years," he said. "I don't see anything that tells me we won't continue" to be for many more years. Still, Flaherty acknowledged the company's Peoria presence is changing: more accountants and engineers, fewer riveters and painters. Caterpillar makes far more machines and parts than it did 30 years ago and serves far more countries. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.