Caterpillar Inc., the global manufacturing powerhouse, is insisting on extending a six-year wage freeze and an annual increase in health insurance premiums of $3,800 on workers hired before May 2, 2005, while newer employees are subject to "market-based" wages, which in some cases are about half of the established worker's wage, at its Joliet, Ill., factory. All this while the corporation posted record profits and the CEO makes $16.5 million. Union machinists have been at strike at Caterpillar's Joliet plant since May 1.
It raises two questions. First, why do high wages and costly benefits for workers make a corporation uncompetitive but outrageous salaries and benefit packages for executives do not?
Second, since Caterpillar is truly a global corporation, why isn't the "market-based wage" concept applied to the executives at Caterpillar? I suspect that there are plenty of executives and managers from those wildly successful companies in China who would work for a fraction of what is paid to their counterparts at Caterpillar.
This just supports the proposition that the rich and powerful have an insatiable appetite for more wealth and power. The CEO at Caterpillar isn't doing this out of belief in some market level concept. He's doing it because he can.
MICHAEL C. JOYCE