Caterpillar, UAW strike tentative deal

Caterpillar reached a tentative agreement Dec. 15 with the United Auto Workers on a new six-year deal for workers who have been without a contract since May.

The new contract, if approved by UAW members, would cover more than 9,000 workers in Illinois, Colorado, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. The agreement was reached after negotiators from Caterpillar and UAW discussed the deal for two days, including a 14-hour negotiation session on Wednesday. This week’s negotiations are the first to take place between the two sides since August, when Caterpillar stated its contract proposal was the “last, best and final offer.” According to the Associated Press, after the first deal was rejected in May, Caterpillar added $45 million in pay and benefits.

Previous contract talks had stalled because of a proposal that would require workers to contribute to their healthcare coverage and because of a two-tiered wage scale for new workers that would have set them at a lower wage level than workers who have worked with the company longer. Since May, workers have remained on the job under the terms of their old contract.

Neither Caterpillar nor the UAW have disclosed the details of the tentative agreement, but spokesmen for both have stated their support for the proposed contract.

“We’re pleased to have reached a very fair and reasonable tentative agreement – one that both the union and the company believe is worthy of our employees’ support,” said Chris Glynn, director of labor relations for Caterpillar. “We faced some complex issues over the past year, and through comprehensive discussions with the union have developed solutions that respond to the current and future needs of our employees and retirees.”

Prior to the announcement of the agreement, Caterpillar stocks rose to $94.88 a share on the New York Stock Exchange — the highest level in the past year.