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Caterpillar, union contract details emerge

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Local union workers are set to vote Sunday on a new six-year contract with Caterpillar Inc. 

DECATUR – Wage increases and ratification bonuses are among the highlights of the new labor agreement Decatur's Caterpillar Inc. union members will put to a ratification vote Sunday.

National United Auto Workers officials and the local UAW Local 751 leadership are urging workers to vote “yes” to the six-year agreement, which would run through 2023. Details of the agreement emerged Thursday.

Key highlights: 2 percent general wage increases in December 2018 and 2020. If market-based wage adjustments are greater than 2 percent in 2018 and 2020, the greater amount applies.

And workers are eligible for market-based wage hikes in December 2017, 2019, 2021 and 2022 if they are post-2005 employees. If any labor grade surpasses the current pre-2005 wage rates, those employees would then be eligible for market-based increases.

A $3,000 ratification bonus is contingent on the UAW Caterpillar National Policy Committee unanimously recommending the agreement for ratification, which they have done.

A $1,000 lump sum bonus in December 2020 for workers not eligible for a general wage increase.

An employee rewards program that maintains a minimum $250 quarterly payout was retained for the contract.

Under health care, the union says its members will have access to the same health care plans as management and executives effective Jan. 1, 2018. The union says this will mean its members will have “more security, better cost savings and flexibility to make choices based on individual needs.”

Eligible union retirees who are not yet 65 will get a healthcare plan with the same plan design as management retirees.

Early Facebook comments on the Local 751 page were generally positive, and the union is pushing hard for a “yes” vote when the Local's membership gathers for its informational meeting and vote at MacArthur High School on Sunday.

UAW negotiators first announced an agreement had been reached with Caterpillar management March 15. If ratified, the contract will cover some 5,000 workers at 11 facilities in Decatur, Aurora, Pontiac and Peoria and York, Pa. The union and management have been in talks since Jan. 18 and the previous contract expired Feb. 28.

“We are extremely proud of the job done by the UAW Caterpillar National Policy Committee during this difficult round of negotiations,” said a statement signed by UAW “National Caterpillar Department” Vice President and Director Norwood Jewell, and Caterpillar bargaining Chairman Randy Smith and co-Chairman Don Rohrer.

“The committee was successful in making gains that will benefit all UAW-represented Caterpillar workers,” the statement continued. “The UAW Caterpillar National Policy Committee has unanimously endorsed this tentative agreement for ratification. Together, we join your negotiating committee in recommending the tentative new agreement for your ratification.”

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