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Caterpillar workers plan to strike in Illinois

780 machinists plan to walk off the job at a Caterpillar Inc. plant in Joliet, Ill., at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.

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Caterpillar 2009 Challenger MT765C farm tractors sit on on the docks of the Port of Baltimore's Dundalk Terminal in Baltimore, Md., waiting to be loaded onto ships for export, on Aug. 27, 2009. (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

Seven hundred eighty machinists plan to walk off the job at a Caterpillar Inc. plant in Joliet, Ill., at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, Reuters reported.

Contract talks broke down today, after 94 percent of union members rejected a contract that would not have provided any cost-of-living raises for six years and increased healthcare premiums two-and-a-half times, the Peoria Journal Star reported.

Steve Jones, an official with the IAM Local 851 that represents the workers, told Reuters that union representatives rejected Caterpillar's offer because “we’re going to be in a much worse economic position six years from now than we are now.”

“Essentially Caterpillar is making record profits, $1.5 billion in the first quarter,” Jones told the Peoria Journal Star. “They made a $4.9 billion profit last year, and their CEO received a 42 percent increase in compensation, but they’re taking away from the workers.”

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The Joliet plant, which employs about 2,000 workers, produces hydraulic components and systems for track-type tractors, wheel loaders and mining trucks, Reuters reported.

Caterpillar officials said a strike would not disrupt production at this point, the Peoria Journal Star reported.

“We are going to continue to run our business as normal, meet production levels and provide uninterrupted service to our customers,” the company said in a statement, according to the Peoria Journal Star. “Caterpillar has work plans, processes, policies and people ready to be deployed in the event of any business interruption, whether it is a tornado, fire or a labor strike.”

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/120430/caterpillar-workers-plan-strike-illinois-joliet-cat