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View Diary: They Wouldn't Pay You if They Could Get Away With It - UPDATED x 2 (136 comments)

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  •  I used to live in Peoria, and East Peoria, CAT's (24+ / 0-)

    corporate HQ and main manufacturing plant locations respectively. My uncle Jim and uncle Harold both worked at the plant in E Peoria. For a very long time virtually the entire Greater Peoria Area's economy rose and fell on how well CAT dealt with their workforce.

    CAT workers were the envy of most of rural west central IL. Everyone knew if you could get your foot in the door at CAT, even if were just sweeping floors, you had it made.

    There was a time when CAT would shut down for two weeks every summer while all its employees were given their annual vacation. Local businesses typically scaled back their work forces knowing things would be slow until CAT employees returned to work.

    And needless to say, when CAT workers went on strike, it had a ripple effect as striking workers immediately curbed their spending in the local economy.  

    So while not everyone worked for CAT, nearly everyone was affected by them. Yet when CAT workers went on strike, it was very common for non-CAT area residents to side with management, not for love of management, but out of envy of CAT workers who were considered by many of their own neighbors as having had it too good for too long.

    As the local economy became more diversified and less dependent on CAT, and as CAT sought more concessions from it's work force, sympathy from non-CAT area residents waned even further. That's where things stood back in the late 90s when I left Peoria.

    I'd like to think local non-CAT area residents have let go of their envy, now that there would appear to be less to be envious of, and are now more supportive of striking CAT employees than they have been in the past. But I rather doubt  it since the chances are high that non-CAT area residents' wages, as for most of the country, have stagnated. And they're too stupid to see that that stagnation had nothing to do with how well CAT employees used to be treated and everything to do with CAT upper management's greed.

    Ds see human suffering and wonder what they can do to relieve it. Rs see human suffering and wonder how they can profit from it.

    by JTinDC on Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 03:43:59 AM PDT

    •  now Peoria is just a shell (19+ / 0-)

      Born and raised in Peoria too, and agree with all you say.  My dad was a teacher and it seemed like even the school district summer school program revolved around the 2 weeks that CAT was on vacation.

      I was back there in 2008 for my mother's funeral, and was SHOCKED at the shell that Peoria has become.  When I got back home, I checked the census bureau and saw that the population has shrunk considerably from the time I lived there in the 1970's.  People gotta go somewhere when there are no jobs or only poorly paying jobs that won't support a family.

    •  1992 strike beginning of the end for Peoria (1+ / 0-)
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      I'm from Galesburg, about an hour away from Peoria.
      From what I understand of the 1992 Cat strike in Peoria, management brought in (non-union) employees who were engineers to work the floor.
      The engineers took a look at the line and said, "Hey! We can really modernize this!"
      So they did, and the increased robotics managed to eliminate a whole bunch of jobs previously performed by people.
      The strike ended, but many fewer workers were needed.
      Peoria hasn't been the same since.
      My Republican father-in-law, who was a big wig in the accounting department before he retired, seems to have zero sympathy for the workers. Love that labor/management divide. snark

      •  I also used to live in Canton, roughly half way (0+ / 0-)

        between Peoria and Galesburg. Canton was hit hard when International Harvester was lost and as I recall Galesburg took a huge hit when Maytag pulled out and headed to Mexico.

        Ds see human suffering and wonder what they can do to relieve it. Rs see human suffering and wonder how they can profit from it.

        by JTinDC on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 04:51:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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