Caterpillar gave the United Auto Workers its “last, best and final” contract offer Aug. 6. In response, the union, which rejected a six-year contract proposal from the company in April, held off a scheduled strike by more than 9,000 workers.
No date has been set for union workers to vote on the new contract offer, which Caterpillar says provides substantial pay and benefit improvements compared to the previous proposal. The company has said it will use salaried employees, temporary workers and union members who cross picket lines to keep lines running if workers strike.
Union officials and Caterpillar have not provided details about the contract offers or negotiations, citing an agreement to keep that information private.
Workers have been on the job without a contract since April 25. Union members said they disliked provisions in the previous contract offer that would have require them to contribute to their health care premiums for the first time. A two-tiered wage scale that would start new hires at about half the pay of veteran workers was also unpopular.
The union presented a counterproposal in July that would boost starting pay from $10 an hour to $11. The UAW also accepted paying part of members’ health care costs for the first time, but at a lower rate than the company proposed.