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The Caterpillar Workers Rank-and-File Committee demands the immediate release of the full tentative agreement.
In order for workers to be as fully informed as possible and therefore able to make a democratic decision which would determine the next six years of our lives, we insist on the following:
- The entire proposed contract, including all additions and deletions and any “letters of agreement,” must be posted online and made accessible to all workers.
- We must have one additional week to study and discuss this lengthy and complex document before voting on it.
- Mass meetings of entire locals must be organized so that workers can benefit from the largest possible discussion and critical questioning of the agreement and ensure the needs of all workers are met. We have the right to have our questions answered on every detail, line and punctuation mark in this contract.
- If these demands are not met, CAT workers should reject this deal as a matter of principle. It’s not just our interests on the line—This contract will affect our families, retirees, the next generation, as well as workers at other companies.
At bogus “informational” meetings being held this week in Decatur where we’ve been split up into small groups, UAW officials are dancing around our questions. At Local 974 in Peoria, these “informational” meetings haven’t even been scheduled until voting begins this weekend.
The UAW officials have declared that the contract can only be viewed in person at the union hall and that it cannot be distributed digitally because it would “leak” online.
The bureaucracy is banking on the fact that virtually no rank-and-file workers will have a whole day to sit at the hall and read through the entirety of the contract.
The claim that it can’t be released online doesn’t hold water. The TA is not some top secret document that has to be kept under 24/7 lock and key.
The UAW released the full contract language (or what they claimed was the full language) online and publicly prior to the vote on their first tentative agreement with Deere in 2021. UAW Vice President Chuck Browning and President Ray Curry apparently learned their lesson from that experience, because once Deere workers started to read the full deal and discuss it, they were able to tell with certainty that it was garbage and voted to reject it by 90 percent!
The only conclusion one can draw is that UAW officials are afraid of workers reading the full contract. Not just CAT workers, but autoworkers and our brothers and sisters at Deere, CNH, or Volvo or Mack Trucks, who should also be able to know what terms we’re being asked to work under. The UAW bureaucrats are clearly worried that any close scrutiny of the contract would cause even greater opposition to it and send it down in flames.
Fellow workers, ask yourselves: Would you enter into a contract of any kind if the other side selected what you got to see and then asked you to sign off on it? Or better yet, put together just 2-3 pages of “highlights” and said don’t worry about the other 100 pages? Would you do that with a house, a car or any other major life decision?
The UAW officials are following the same playbook they’ve used over and over again. They are withholding vital information from us. They are telling us that this deal is in our best interests. At the same time, they are saying that management is threatening to close plants if we don’t ratify it. But if it’s such a wonderful contract for workers, why are they hiding the details and using threats to try to get us to accept it?
We already know, just based on the “highlights,” that the wage increases in the contract would not keep up with inflation and higher health premiums and would mean a massive attack on our real wages. What else don’t they want us to see?
Brothers and sisters, now is the time to take a stand for our rights and interests, which for too long have been trampled on in the name of profits and “shareholder value.” We state here our minimum demands, based on what workers actually need to have a decent standard of living:
A 50 percent wage increase for all workers to make up for years of frozen or falling wages and the loss of profit-sharing and bonuses. Promises for “market-based” raises, unilaterally determined by management, are meaningless and no guarantee against inflation.
COLA (regular cost-of-living raises) in order to keep up with surging food, gas and housing prices.
The payment of overtime at double the regular rate for any hours worked over eight hours during the weekday or work on the weekend.
The immediate abolition of the wage and benefit tier system, with post-2005 pay and benefit cuts reversed.
At least two weeks of paid personal time for all workers.
A massive reduction in health care premiums and out-of-pocket costs for both current workers and retirees.
The restoration of pensions for all workers and their payment at a level adequate to provide a decent retirement.
A two-year, not six-year, contract. A six-year contract would seek to handcuff us in the event of rapid economic changes, such as a further surge in inflation, which can be devastating to workers.