May 8, 2012 / 6:23 PM / in 6 years

IAM plans rally as Caterpillar strike hits week 2

(Reuters) - Union members at a Caterpillar Inc (CAT.N) plant in Joliet, Illinois have scheduled a rally for Friday to gather support for their strike against the company, which is now in its second week.

A scratched and worn Caterpillar logo is pictured at the back of a bulldozer in the rental equipment yard of Holt Caterpillar, the largest Caterpillar dealer in the United States, in San Antonio, Texas March 19, 2012. REUTERS/Richard Carson

About 800 Caterpillar employees, represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union, walked off the job on May 1 after negotiators failed to agree on a new contract.

Caterpillar responded by bringing in replacement workers so that production schedules could stay on track.

“We’re doing this to rally the troops and bring the community into what is happening,” Steve Jones, an official with the IAM Local 851, said on Tuesday.

Talks between the IAM and Caterpillar are currently on hold.

“No new negotiations are scheduled,” Caterpillar spokesman Rusty Dunn said. “The Joliet facility continues to work safely and effectively.”

Caterpillar has characterized its recent proposal, delivered in April, as its “final offer.” The company posted details about its offer on jolietbargainingupdates.cat.com.

Caterpillar’s offer was rejected because it did not include sufficient pay raises and called for higher health care costs, union officials said. Caterpillar’s six-year contract offer had included a $5,000 ratification payment and participation in the company’s annual bonus plan.

The plant produces hydraulic components and systems for a variety of Caterpillar machines, including track-type tractors, wheel loaders and mining trucks.

Shares of Caterpillar were down 2.1 percent, or $2.03, at $95.16 in mid-morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

    Reporting by John D. Stoll in Detroit; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz

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