Yesterday, ThinkProgress’ Tanya Somanader noted that Apple Inc. is breaking its profit record and sitting on nearly $100 billion in cash, while its Chinese laborers toil in unsafe and even deadly conditions. Here on the other side of the Atlantic, another huge company has decided to lock out its Canadian workers in an attempt to force them to accept pay cuts, even as it pulls in its own record profits:
Caterpillar reported a 36 per cent increase in after-tax profit for both the fourth quarter of 2011 and the full year 2011. Revenues for the year increased four per cent to $2.65 billion.
Despite the record profits, the company is pressuring its employees at the London [Ontario] locomotive plant to accept a pay cut from $32 per hour to $16.50. Caterpillar locked out the workers on Jan. 1 after union members rejected the pay cut.
While certainly not in the same league with Apple’s abuses, Caterpillar is just the latest company attempting to force workers to accept wage cuts at the same time its hauling in huge profits and paying its CEO millions. AT&T, Navistar, John Deere, and Wellpoint have all pulled the same trick in the last few years, laying off hundreds of workers. Caterpillar’s CEO, Doug Oberhelman, made $10.5 million in 2010.
“This is all about greed,” says Bob Scott, union chairman at the plant. “How are workers supposed to go back to earning wages last paid nearly 25 years ago, while the company is richer than ever?” CEOs today make about 343 times the amount earned by the typical worker.