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Social Issues: Caterpillar Freezes Wages For Six Years

Updated on August 12, 2014

The Facts

And the insanity continues!

In August Caterpillar Inc., the world’s largest construction equipment manufacturer, signed a labor agreement with the Machinists Union, ending a four month strike. The agreement effectively froze wages for six years and decreased workmen’s compensation.

All well and good you say; times are tough economically and a company has to do what it has to do, right, in order to stay competitive in today’s economic world.

Not so fast my friend! In 2011, Caterpillar made a whopping $4.9 billion in profits and so far in 2012, the first quarter earnings are $1.5 billion. The CEO of Caterpillar earned….are you ready for this….$17 million in total compensation for 2011.

Am I the only one who has a problem with this? Obviously the 780 machinists in Joliet, Illinois, are not too excited, but beyond them, is there anyone else who sees the insanity in this managerial triumph?

To answer the question you must all have, top-tier machinists, the ones who went on strike, are making, and will make for six years, $26 per hour, or roughly $55,000 per year. The new benefits package will mean that each worker will now pay an extra $1,900 per year for benefits, so the adjusted yearly pay will be $53,100.

Second and third tier workers, who make between $13 and $19 per hour, are not affected by this latest contract.

The company states that the wage freeze was necessary in order for Caterpillar to stay competitive in the world market.

And the insanity continues!

Middle Class, Where Have You Gone?

Well, according to the latest Census statistics, the American middle class has been stuck in neutral since at least 1988. In 1988 the average income for an American taxpayer was $33,400. In 2008 that income was $33,000.

During that same time the inflation rate rose every year other than 2009, meaning of course that while prices rose, incomes remained the same; not a recipe for success in anyone’s language.

During that same time period, America’s richest 1%, those making $380,000 or more, saw their average income rise 33%.

And the insanity continues!

So What’s Going On?

In part, the income stagnation of the middle class is a result of the decline in labor unions. Less than 11% of the workforce now belongs to a labor union. Collective bargaining is becoming a thing of the past in this country, and even when collective bargaining is evident, as is the case in the Caterpillar strike, the unions often cave to management demands, further weakening collective bargaining in the future.

Manufacturing, once the backbone of the United States economy, is now seeing jobs shipped overseas, leaving hundreds of thousands of workers untrained for the new trend towards a service economy.

The current trade deficit with China is at $295 billion, and since 2001 2.8 million U.S. manufacturing jobs have been lost because of that trade deficit with that one nation alone. Obviously “Made In America” does not carry the weight it once did.

My simplistic viewpoint

In Search of Logic

I’m a reasonable kind of guy! If someone logically explains to me why a company that profited $4.9 billion needs to freeze wages to stay competitive, then I will be more than willing to listen to that argument. I would gladly listen to an argument that included cutting back just a tad on the compensation package for the CEO of Caterpillar, so that he made a measly $15 million next year rather than $17 million.

I really need someone to explain the logic to me! I’m not stupid; I have degrees in Marketing and Economics, so I should be able to follow along with any explanation presented to me, so please, give me one ounce of economic logic and I’ll be on board.

I have done a little math on this subject. If you took one billion dollars and simply invested it at 4% interest, you would make several hundred million dollars on your investment in one year. Several hundred million dollars! In other words, increasing the wages of the Caterpillar workers would not increase expenses one iota! The extra wage increase would simply be paid for by the interest on the company profits. So where is the added expense? How does increasing the worker’s pay make Caterpillar less competitive in the world market?

This is simply a matter of corporate greed, pure and simple, and it is socially irresponsible!

And the insanity continues!

Living in the Real World

Here is what I know to be a fact: if the wages of workers are frozen, and inflation continues, then the buying power of those workers will decrease, meaning they will buy less and eventually businesses will suffer from lost business. Lost business means eventually laying off workers, and the cycle then becomes self-perpetuating. It makes no long-term economic sense to freeze wages, especially in the current economic climate, for a company that is quite healthy.

Certainly there are businesses that must freeze wages in order to survive. Small businesses with less than, say, ten employees, are working on such a small profit margin that it may very well be necessary to freeze salaries and/or benefits. However, that is not what we are discussing with Caterpillar.

$4.9 billion! That is the issue at hand, and by any definition of social responsibility, Caterpillar is irresponsible. This company has over 500 manufacturing facilities around the globe, from Peoria, Illinois, to Russia, Brazil, India, and China. They are paying ridiculously low wages in many of those depressed countries, a fact that just makes this wage freeze much more ludicrous.

When an American corporation had the opportunity to step up and address the current recession in a socially responsible manner, Caterpillar took the low road and concerned themselves with adding to their profits, and then had the gall to blame it on remaining competitive on the world market.

It Has to End and End Soon

I, for one, am very disappointed that the union members caved and accepted this wage freeze. I understand it but I am still disappointed. Several years ago I was making $55,000 per year and I can tell you, and many others will confirm, that a family of four will have to watch their pennies to live on $55,000 per year. Paying for benefits, shelter, food, clothing, and transportation will eat up the greater portion of that $55,000, leaving very little in case of emergency.

I wonder what kind of emergency fund the CEO of Caterpillar has? I wonder if he has to save his spare change to take his family out to a movie once a month?

I look at the economy today and I have serious concerns. I do not believe this nation can rise to economic greatness unless its manufacturing base is strengthened and broadened, and as a nation we will never be strong until we come together, from top to bottom, as a cohesive unit.

Yes, it has to end! The only question remaining is how will it end?

2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

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    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Pete, I truly am sorry for the position you are in, and I don't see this economy getting better in the near future. You are right of course; we are left with few real options in this election, and I don't believe sweeping change will happen no matter who wins. That leaves us all to fend for ourselves and find a way to get by somehow. Best wishes to you my friend; I hope something breaks soon for you.

    • Pete Wolfe profile image

      Pete Wolfe 5 years ago from NJ

      Wow man, you hit the nail on the head. I couldn't agree with you more. I am 45 and out of work for 5+ years now, electronics manufacturing. My resume has so many gaps nobody will hire me. Thanks to this wonderful crappy economy. And all i want is a job to pay off my bills and disappear, grow my own food, hunt and fish. And to think that i have to vote for one of these rich "Pencil Necks" that i DO NOT TRUST AT ALL.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha.....my stomach hurts I'm laughing so hard.....you can head the Kick Their Lazy Asses Out Of Office committee and I'll pay you whatever you want to do it quickly. :)

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 5 years ago from Central Florida

      K. I'm available for finance, PR or the bullshit committee! We still have one, right? Will you pay me more than $3/500 words????

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, if that day comes, you are on my Cabinet! No way I'm suffering alone. LOL

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 5 years ago from Central Florida

      Bill, if I were to have been fired, would they have given me notice??? The answer is a resounding, NO! Your support means the world to me in that respect. On another note....

      Be prepared my friend, you have over 1,000 followers and we all have disgruntled friends! I for one have given your name as a write-in!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, the story you just related happens all too often in this country. Normally I would always advocate giving notice before quitting, but I've been soured by the American corporation of late, and I'm not sure any of them deserves two-weeks notice. I, for one, am glad you quit the way you did.

      I'll bet I could stir things up in Washington D.C.....it would be fun!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 5 years ago from Central Florida

      Bill, this abomination is not only happening at the higher end, but at the local level also. The company from which I recently resigned imposed a raise freeze when the recession hit. In the meantime, the cost of living skyrocketed! How do you get ten pounds of shit in a five pound bag?!

      Yet, did the officers forgo their annual dividends of over $100,000 each in order to help their loyal employees contend with the cost of living? No! Did they think twice before flaunting their newly acquired vacation homes to the employees who were told the company couldn't afford to issue raises? No!

      It's enough to make you want to puke on their Italian leather shoes! It's also one reason I quit without notice. No one knew how to do my job when I quit. I did all the billing and managed the accounting department. Who's responsible for bringing in the revenue now?! I'll bet they're scrambling! Maybe they'll take another look at how to treat the people who build the profit!

      BTW, I'm writing you in for President in this election. Rather than not vote at all, which was tempting, I've decided to write you in. I hope you're ready!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Poolman, yes it can! Thanks for the great participation in this discussion!

    • profile image

      Old Poolman 5 years ago

      Excellent point Bill, I also have never heard a bad word from a Microsoft employee. So it can be done the right way.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Bill, thank you for adding your perspective to the discussion. We have several huge corporations here in the Northwest, Microsoft being the leader, and I have never spoken to an employee of Microsoft who had a negative word to say about them....I find that remarkable and also a hopeful sign. It is possible to run a corporation and take care of your employees. Hopefully others will follow their lead.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Glimmer, I don't even know what to say to that kind of callousness. Thanks for adding that to the discussion. I am dumbstruck at this moment.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Bill, I've been bitching about this type of greed for years. Why, you may ask? Because I work for one of these large multinational conglomerates that will remain unnamed. It is clearly obvious to those of us who work for these companies what is going on. The top tier take care of themselves at the expense of the middle class worker. And to top it all off, these companies are moving jobs overseas because of the cheaper labor rates in other companies.

      Thank you for bringing this issue to light. Bill

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 5 years ago

      This hub is right on the money (no pun intended). A friend of mine's husband works at a company that is considering outsourcing and when the question arose in a meeting that if it was determined to be more cost effective for the jobs to stay in house would the company do it. A big honcho said no because that would mean that the head honcho would lose his job. The guy actually said this to a room full of people looking outsourcing in the face. The disconnect between some people is unbelievable!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Joan, I definitely would be concerned. I see no relief in sight, and the sides of the debate are too divided to find compromise. Hopefully calmer and wiser minds will come to the table of discussion and then we might see positive change.

      Thank you!

    • JoanCA profile image

      JoanCA 5 years ago

      Great hub! You bring up something I've been concerned about for years. If the execs at big corporations want to pay their workers as little as possible, while paying themselves and shareholders more and more, where is their future customer base going to come from? It's very short term thinking that's going to come back to haunt them at some point. This situation can only go on for so long before we have a really big economic collapse. I have two young kids and it's a huge concern for me.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Poolman, we are in complete agreement about buying American! I have been signing that tune for quite some time now. This is in our laps, and we hold the key. Thanks my friend, for some great points that make me think and reflect.

    • profile image

      Old Poolman 5 years ago

      Bill, it is just so easy for all of us to declare hatred toward the big corporations and their high salary's, yet we buy and love their products. If anyone truly hates a corporation, punish them by not using their products or services anymore.

      Most of us knowingly buy goods made in China helping their economy, but we should be boycotting them.

      Your right, it is a very complex issue of which none of us know all the facts and figures. If the Unions didn't see a good reason to OK the wage freeze, then that would indicate some high level Union officials might have profited by agreeing to this move. There are a great many possibilities, but we will most likely never know any more about it than we do now.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Poolman, I, too, have been on both sides of this discussion, and I tend to agree with your statements. The whole picture needs to be seen before total judgment can be assigned. The problem I am having is the compensation package of the CEO, which is exorbitant by anyone's standards, and the net profit of $4.9 billion. At some point there needs to be social responsibility, and to all watching this situation, social responsibility is not evident.

      I do appreciate your comments and I respect your viewpoint!

    • profile image

      Old Poolman 5 years ago

      I guess I am the only one not playing the "greed song" without seeing some numbers. I still have to believe that for the Union to agree to a 6 year wage freeze, they must have known something we don't know. I lived through a couple wage freezes in my working years and I both hated and resented this move by my employer. After owning my own business for 25 years, I better understood the position my employer may have been in at that time. When demand for the product or service goes down, and expenses go up, some hard decisions must be made. Rising gas prices alone can kill a small business running a fleet of vehicles. Unlike utility companies, most small business's can't pass these added costs on to the customer.

      I'll say again that if upper management also agreed to this wage freeze it was a necessary move to save the company. If the upper management is still getting raises I will start singing the "greed song" along with everyone else.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh Sue, that is such a radical idea! Some might call it Socialist! How dare you speak like that! LOL That kind of thinking might just bring about badly needed reform. :)

      Thank you my friend; have a fantastic and PIPO day!

    • profile image

      Sueswan 5 years ago

      Hi Bill,

      Do these greedy corporations ever stop(obviously not) to think if it wasn't for their laborers there profits would be a bit fat zero.

      What if there was a law on how much profit a company could make? Let say the limit is 200%. Anything above and beyond that would go toward funding education, job creation, job training, manufacturing, social programs etc.

      Voted up and awesome

      Take care :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Beckie, my pleasure, and thank you so much for being who you are! I hope you are enjoying your weekend.

      hugs,

      bill

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 5 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Just another shameful example of how large corporations are taking advantage of the current economic situation, effectively doing their part to push it farther into the sh_tter!

      Many lessons learned with this. Looks like I'll be promptly boycotting a few as well. They should be ashamed but that would mean evidence of a conscious, which is quite obviously not involved.

      Thanks for the info and for a very fast lesson in dirty handed economics.

      Always worth the read.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Patty; I was going to do it earlier until I saw the new contest for November. :)

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 5 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Thanks! I'll be sure to read it.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Patty, hello again! I have a hub coming out November 1st about UHaul and it will be an eye opener for a great many people.

      Thank you and have a wonderful weekend.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 5 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Well, I'll never use UHaul again, after hearing all this.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Alex, thank you my friend! That is my hope, to simply raise awareness and then see what happens. As for UHaul, I was going to write one about them next week, but then noticed the new contest for November, so I'll kill two birds with one stone and publish that hub on November 1st. It should be an eye-opener for many people.

      Thank you and I hope you enjoy my hub today....wink, wink! :)

      bill

    • profile image

      SilverGenes 5 years ago

      Bill, your comment about UHaul caught my attention like a flare in the night! I'm in the middle of a horrendous episode with them and would look forward to reading that hub if you decide to write it...nudge nudge :)

      Yes, it is understandable why people cave to demands. We need to eat and care for our children. This is understood best of all by these same corporations and what better way to create a society of compliant slaves than to keep them just a little hungry? Or a lot? In Canada, we have reached 3rd world stature with regard to that very issue in many communities - at least according to the UN who visited a first-world nation for the first time in history. The more people become aware of what is really going on and continue to talk about it, the more pressure we can expect from these greedy, power-hungry corporations. Sheesh... I need to go for a walk. LOL

      Keep up the great work! We need people like you who not only address the problem, but suggest solutions for getting the rest of us through these difficult times. Awesome job!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Patty, thanks for that addition.....what craziness! I worked for UHaul for several years, and the horror stories I could tell you would fill a hub.....which just gave me an idea. LOL Thank you and have a great weekend!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 5 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      I worked for Caterpillar locally for a short time after earning a master's degree, while looking for a permanent job. When I arrived for the first day via a temp agency, Cat changed the job to a high-paid science-related position (because of my degree), but without a raise from minimum wage and no benefits to the $20/hr + benefits level the job required. Astonished, I then quit when asked, as a temp, to train a permanent employee for another advanced position at high wages.

      I thought the problem was in the local plant here, but now I know it starts at the top.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ruby, we have seen them before; no reason to think it can't happen again.

      Thank you my friend; have a great Friday!

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Faith, don't worry about that....I have no intention of doing drugs or alcohol. I do, however, intend to keep issues in the limelight so that awareness grows.

      I wish you peace, happiness and love, today and always,

      bill

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I see sweat shops when the unions cease to exist..

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 5 years ago from southern USA

      Insanity indeed Bill!!!

      That is the plan, the very poor and the very rich, no middle class for us anylonger. Really sad state of affairs for our nation, which was once so great! It's ugly name is "Greed" in the hearts of men (mankind), with no regard for those suffering on the streets right here in our very own country---that should NEVER be the case here, and there is really no reason why it should be in this sad state. God bless you dear one for attempting to find logic---no such in the minds of the powers at hand. Please don't turn to drugs over this! I know you were adding to the drama as a writer. Excellent hub. Voted Up, awesome, interesting and useful. In His Love Always, Faith Reaper

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you truthfornow; it is, indeed, a very long time. Thank you for the visit.

    • truthfornow profile image

      truthfornow 5 years ago from New Orleans, LA

      6 years is a long time for a wage freeze. God only knows what prices will be like in 6 years. Great information.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Poolman! Your comments are appreciated and always worth reading and reflecting on.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Deb, I think you might be onto something. :) I would joke about this but my heart isn't in it.

      Thank you my OK friend!

    • profile image

      Old Poolman 5 years ago

      My guess is that with the Union being involved in this decision, they chose the lesser of all the evils. Blame corporations all you want, but they have to make some profit to stay in business. I would love to talk to some of the Union officials to see what choices they had, but that will most likely never happen. I have been a dues paying member of several different Unions, I have been in Management, and I have owned my own business. It is not as simple to make decisions like this as one might imagine. Without some details on their actual financial situation and other alternatives, it may be premature to just blame the corporation.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Corporations at their finest. Looks what the oil companies made in comparison. That must be the justification, keeping up with the Joneses.

    • profile image

      Old Poolman 5 years ago

      fpherj48 - Would you be angrier if they had closed the doors and laid off everyone who works there? Yes, a wage freeze really sucks, but it is better for the employees than the other alternatives.

      Caterpillar makes construction equipment that is used in mines and construction. You may have noticed that many mines shut down, and there is little or no construction in progress. I wouldn't label this move as pure greed until I had a chance to look at their books and sales records. My guess is their sales are at an all time low and they are trying to save the company, but I could be wrong. They also have to keep the stockholders happy, or they have no money to operate with. I'm afraid it is a little more complex an issue than you represent in your comment.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Paula, I want you by my side when we take down the establishment.

      Of course, this is not a new problem, but it sure seems to be more prominent than it once was. Doing a little research on this subject, I confirmed that corporations since the dawn of man have shown greedy tendencies, so I guess I shouldn't be shocked by this development in Illinois. Unfortunately, I was shocked. Once I did the math it became apparent that maybe the directors of Caterpillar weren't being forthright. :)

      I would write more but I need to go bust my ass for my new boss.....Bev! At least she pays benefits. :)

      Thanks buddy!

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Inequality of human worth, the wealthy bleeding the little guy, I own the company...I make the rules. You do the hard labor....you work in the trenches...you bust YOUR ass for me and mine.....you drive a used ford....so I can drive a Jaguar.....Greed.......Greedier....Greediest.... Michael Douglas says as Gordon Gecko..."Greed is Good."

      I have a mansion or 2 or 3....you struggle to pay for a cottage....THAT'S the way it is. Like it or get in the unemployment line...........Greed......greed ...greed....... and the world goes round and round....twirled by the wealthy, for the wealthy....in the hands of the wealthy. ........UP+++

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Poolman, there is no doubt about that fact....none at all! :)

    • profile image

      Old Poolman 5 years ago

      On the bright side, Caterpillar is still operating in the US, and these people still have a good paying job for the next six years, even without pay increases. They could have closed their doors here and moved to Mexico. I am not defending this decision, just saying it could have been much worse.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jordan, I don't have a clue what is going on; I have always been confused by this kind of greed, and I always will be. These people don't live by the same principles that I do, that's for sure.

      Thanks buddy; I'll be by to visit shortly.

    • Jordanwalker39 profile image

      Jordanwalker39 5 years ago from NC

      This is insane!! I do not understand why CEO's need to make a boat load of money. The only defense I here is that they work all the time, well I know people who work 16 to 20 days for much less. the nest argument is well if something happens it is on them, its their butt that burns... well all I say to that is look at BP and those 9 (was it) dead employees, how bad did his but burn oh only a few million severance package and a slap on the wrist.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Poolman, you are correct of course. When the unemployed are eating out of trash cans, there is no doubt that they would cross a picket line to take a union job from a union worker. We will eat each other for a good paying job, and to many, the idea of having a job that pays $55,000 per year is beyond their wildest dreams.

      I have not given up hope, but I'm getting close. In the meantime, we will see how things play out, and I will continue to get my finances in order so I am not affected too badly by the crash if it comes.

      Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Poolman, your comments are so good that I have been putting them off until I had time to properly respond. Bailout money...to the tune of a couple trillion dollars! How many zeroes is that? I can't conceive of the amount of good that money could do for the economy, but I know it needs to be out there now in order to help an economy that is floundering like a beached wale.

      Let's hope my friend; let's hope! Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rich, unfortunately, your comment about Honey Boo Boo was very close to the truth. Revolution? It could happen....the Occupy Wall Street movement was just a warm up....it would not surprise me if it were to happen.

      Thanks buddy; I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Yvonne for letting us know about the UK....I think I read somewhere that things were not a whole lot better over there, but I don't have much faith in what I read.

      I do not understand this sort of greed, and I never will.

      Thank you my friend; you are appreciated.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I don't know the answer to your question, Mary, but a revolution would not surprise me. I think the Occupy Wall Street movement had a great chance if they had been organized.....and I think we'll see an even bigger movement in a year or so. I hope something happens because this stuff is getting old.

      Thank you so much!

    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 5 years ago from UK

      Of all that you've written here Bill, although much of it is shocking, I am most shocked to read that the average wage in the US is the same as in 1988. We have had plenty of issues with the recession over in the UK, and I know many people have had hours increased but not pay or the other favourite trick is to employ people on short-term contracts - but average salaries and minimum wages have increased. Having said that, the UK minimum wage isn't much different to in the US - £6.19 for a person over 21, which is around $10.

      I think your point that low wages are ultimately bad for business is a very good one, but sadly I'm not sure what goes through the heads of that CEO on $17 million or the British bank CEO who led a bank into collapse but got a retirement plan of several million. I could never live the guilt in their situation.

    • rcrumple profile image

      Rich 5 years ago from Kentucky

      Bill -

      Since more and more states are developing legistation making labor unions against the law, the middle class hasn't a chance. It's as simple as one, two, screw you! This is the same thing that has created so many revolutions in the past. Question is: could the military and police, with the technology and weaponry they now enjoy, put down an active revolution? And, would Americans and other world countries revolt in unison to keep one country from coming to the assistance of another's government? Not that any of those questions really matter. Too many are watching Honey Boo Boo to be bothered. Great Job!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      "I’m a reasonable kind of guy! If someone logically explains to me why a company that profited $4.9 billion needs to freeze wages to stay competitive, then I will be more than willing to listen to that argument." I'm totally with you on this one Bill. Is there any possible logic to this situation? What happened to a time when companies/corporations shared their profits with their employees instead of stripping them of salary and dignity?

      How long can this insanity last before we either starve or start a revolution?

      Voted this up, useful, awesome, and interesting. Also shared and pinned!

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      Old Poolman 5 years ago

      Bill, The amount of bailout money that is sitting in banks who refuse to loan money is insane. That money in their vaults is doing nobody any good. In hindsight, there should have been some strings attached to the bailouts, and some time limits imposed on putting it to use, or they should have give the money back.

      So little time, and so many things broken, it will take years to put all the pieces back together again. We should have seen this coming but most of us didn't pay attention until it was too late. We expected those we put in office to do their jobs and watch out for us, but they only watched out for themselves.

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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Michael, I was just reading about that....depending on which article you read, but I heard there was one trillion dollars in investment capital and it is not being used because of uncertainty. Well my goodness, someone needs to step up to the plate and get it going. One trillion dollars???? What would that do to stimulate this economy? We may never know!

      Thank you, and great comment.

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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Suzette, I came away from the debate feeling the same way. I wanted to wipe that smirk off of the fave of Romney, and I wanted to shake Obama and make him understand that the old ways aren't working.

      Sigh; I need to take a break and write about changing leaves. LOL Thank you my friend!

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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rolly, you are absolutely correct.....it is unacceptable and yet it happens daily in thousands of boardrooms. I came out of college with degrees in Marketing and Economics and realized early on that I could not in good faith play those games.

      Thank you my friend; peace and love to you always.

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      Michael Tully 5 years ago

      Excellent commentary, Bill. The logical fallacy of a company making $4.9 billion while crying about "remaining competitive" should be obvious to any intelligent reader.

      The troubling thing is that this mindset is not confined to Caterpillar. The financial press has been reporting that the Fortune 500 companies are sitting on a veritable ocean of cash, but are afraid to spend it because of uncertainty about the economy and federal tax policy looking forward. There is, I'm sure, a certain degree of truth to that, but until that money gets back into circulation, the economy will stay in the doldrums. It's a problem of circular reasoning. Somebody, somewhere, needs to get the ball rolling again, instead of pointing the finger of blame. Cat had a chance to do their part, and they blew it.

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      Old Poolman 5 years ago

      Bill, I wish you had watch the entire debate. Several things came to light regarding major issues in this country that need to be corrected. It is obvious to me that there are no viable plans in the works to make any of the necessary correction happen. I really could care less which person or which party makes it happen, but we just can't continue down this same road and expect to arrive at a different destination. I don't think it is too late as many are feeling, but we have to make a course correction or it will be in the beyond repair category.

      The business as usual attitude of our elected representatives on both sides of the aisle must change. They have not been doing their jobs, and their refusal to work together solving some of these problems has cost all of us valuable time that should have been used positively. Many of them have just plain been there too long and need to go find another job.

      It is this very age of uncertainty that allowed the wage freeze you wrote about to happen. If the economy were good, and jobs were plentiful, would anyone in their right mind have agreed to this? I doubt it.

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      Suzette Walker 5 years ago from Taos, NM

      Vote for Bill Holland for President! That's how it ends. LOL This is mind boggling. A 6 year wage freeze? These machinists have a 6 year contract? I never heard of one past 3 years, but then maybe I live in a cave. I don't know. The debate last night was ridiculous. We learned nothing and it is the same old platitudes from both of them. This country is in a world of hurt. By my estimation, no matter which one becomes president, we are in for it. Another great hub looking at the insanity of our nation.

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      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Billy... I have been around enough and sat in the chair of CEO to learn one thing. What takes place out in the real world and in there are two totally different worlds. Running any organization requires you to make hard choices. Basically what it amounts too is the more you save the company the more you bet in bonuses.

      Is it right a few should ride on the backs of many... not in the least that is why I stepped out of the big chair... Great article

      Hugs from Canada

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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Julie, I could only watch ten minutes of that debate! I was disgusted by the performances, and disappointed that Obama felt he didn't need to roll up his sleeves and do battle. anyway, thank you my friend.

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      Blurter of Indiscretions 5 years ago from Clinton CT

      Very timely, especially in light of the sparks flying last night during the debate. I agree that we have a BIG problem on our hands. Nice job tackling such a big topic.

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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Nate....thank you! Logic vs greed.....in this society, greed will win out every single time.

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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mark, when will it end? Certainly not in our immediate future, but I do hope to live long enough to see us return to normalcy! Thank you buddy; I hope things are going well in Modesto!

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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      LaThing, thank you so much, and I agree completely. I need to check and see if you have written anything of late.

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      Nathan Bernardo 5 years ago from California, United States of America

      I think the difference between you and Catepillar is that you use logic as a gauge and Catepillar uses greed as a gauge. When I see figures in the billions and millions, I'm just thinking that's way out of my range except in dreamland. I will tell you this too: I definitely prefer your logic.

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      Mark G Weller 5 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

      I could not agree more Bill, the insanity is rampant, and the greed is killing society slowly but at an ever increasing rate. The middle class has all but disappeared and the level of thoughtful caring in society has decreased to almost nothing.

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      LaThing 5 years ago from From a World Within, USA

      Wow, Billy, very interesting article. Your research is overwhelming! These big companies should reliaze that they are all part of the big 'economic cycle', things will fall back on their lap at on point or another.

      Great article, voting up and interesting...

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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      LOL....Joseph, I promise not a word about frugality if we should meet!

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      Joseph De Cross 5 years ago

      Hehehe! Billy! Sure, You, me and Mike could have a talk one day. Just leave frugality aside when we pay for the Star bucks mocha bill!

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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Michele, there is no doubt the middle class is disappearing, replaced by millions who are just scrounging to find a way to eat and pay for necessities. It will be interesting to see what happens after the elections in November.

      Thank you!

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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Time, I feel like a fool, because I am convinced that things will only get worse with our economy, and I can see the direction we are headed for, and it's like....nobody seems to care!!! We as a society need to wake up before we all wake up without a place to live or food to eat.

      Thank you my friend!

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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Joseph, like you, I see the insanity but I don't see a voice of reason. I see the suffering but I don't hear a voice of compassion. I just read a great hub about Ancient Rome and comparing the U.S. to that empire....and how greed and self-gratification spelled the doom of that once great empire, and what do we see now in the U.S.?

      Thank you; I need a valium! LOL

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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Michelle, this is madness pure and simple. $4.9 billion in profit and worried about being competitive? My mind can't wrap around that kind of thinking. To call it anything but greed is a disservice to us all.

      Thank you for a great comment about the middle class; it is disappearing faster than the honey bee.

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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Poolman, your point is excellent and I do realize why they caved. The old days are gone, when a strike meant something, and workers from other unions would respect the strike and all would be in solidarity. Now it's every man and woman for themselves, and if a union job is available then there will be someone who is non-union more than willing to work that job for less.

      Perhaps we will see those days again, but I'm not holding my breath until it happens. :)

      Great comment my friend!

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      Michele Travis 5 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      I agree with miget, it is rather horrible. If the Middle Class disappears, then we may be like other countries. Only the very rich and the very poor and a strong fence in between. Rather scary, at least that is what I feel it is. Excellent hub.

      Voted up.

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      Sondra Rochelle 5 years ago from USA

      You are so spot on with this one! All I can say is that we definitely are moving towards becoming a third world country...one where the few wealthy have everything and the masses scruff around just to find enough food to eat. I'm not sure we can fix this now, which is why (selfishly, I admit) I'm glad I'm old. Never thought I'd live to see the day when the US would fall into this kind of mess, but it's here, and I'm afraid it's not going away soon.

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      Joseph De Cross 5 years ago

      This is insane! Ten years ago I was able to peek into top salaries from CEOs (Worked for a financial printer for the SEC). In 2000, Hewlett Packard, bought Compaq, and was saved by this entrepreneurial lady who was earning 12 million BUCKS a year. The juicy bonus for that year was 40 million dollars. Won't say her name but, she left the company within the next five years. So, I agree and know that those were other times, but I brought it up just to show you what was going on at that level of insanity. They did argue saying that their services to the company deserved a bonus, and CEO salaries were at the level of retribution. "You gotta be kidding me!" Your points are clear and understandable; and we as a nation are in trouble. What is going to happen? The very minute we start starving homeless on the streets, that's when we are going to start moving along with our people for the people. It's too late to try to convince society with regulations and social services. Thanks again Billy.

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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      A vicious cycle, Bill. I agree with Carol. The middle class is slowly disappearing, and companies becoming self-serving. That is a real problem that will affect all of us. We must be aware. Just had adiscussion with my hubby after reading this! We agree on the same thing. Thanks for the great written, which I share!

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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Linda, I'll keep on being that voice! My time is limited on this planet and I have to make that remaining time count and I need to stand for something worthwhile. Thank you as always; I look forward to your next work; I'm going back to frugal ideas tomorrow and take a break from the social screaming. :)

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      Old Poolman 5 years ago

      Bill, I would guess that most people in this country are feeling as insecure as they have ever felt in their entire lives. To them, agreeing to a wage freeze with some assurance they will keep their job for the next 6 years probably seemed like a good trade.

      Would this have happened if the economy was booming? I doubt that it would. If we can get back on track it will take years to return to a booming economy, and this should not happen again. There is a great deal that needs to happen to return America to the place it once was. Over the years, and many administrations, we have allowed this to happen. There should have been serious penalties imposed on companies who chose to move their manufacturing offshore.

      While I don't agree with wage freezes in a company with record profits, I can understand the thinking of those who agreed to this.

      Oh how I long for those days when we had labor shortages and companies were paying sign on bonus's for anyone willing to work for them. Perhaps one day we will see this again.

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      Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

      We woke up on the same railroad track this morning. My first thought this morning was just how much is enough? We seem to have becom a nation of excess everything. I'm so glad you wrote this Bill. It shines the spotlight on a huge disparity in our country. You are doing important work my friend. You are the voice for the little guy!

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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Stephanie, you are absolutely correct.....how is it possible that we have only raised the minimum that much? I was amazed to find we are making less now than eight years ago. Something got to give soon my friend!

      Have a great weekend and thank you!

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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Janine, all eyes are on the election, and hoping change will follow. I'm not so sure that's the case, other than change meaning things got worse. I am not a pessimist by nature, but the economy has me pessimistic at this time.

      Thank you as always; you are truly a kind and caring human being.

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      Stephanie Hicks 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Where, indeed has the middle class gone? We really do have to worry about what the next 5-10 years will bring with rising prices, declining benefits and a tough job market with generally bleak prospects.

      Personally, I find it hard to believe that the minimum wage is still under $10/hr. When I took my first job (McDonald's!) at age 16, it was $3.35. We've only increased that by about $5/hr in the past 25 years???

      Great job again, Bill

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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Bill, again you say it just like it is and so very true my friend. I am so over this economy and the whole scenario. Somedays, I just feel like no matter what we do it just isn't enough or making a dent. It is truly sad that CEO and most upper management just keep getting richer, while the rest of us get poorer as the days go by. I agree something needs to give and change drastically, but when will it?? Have of course voted and shared all over too!!

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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Carol, I think you hit on an important point....people are just trying to survive at this point, and that makes them tend to stay to themselves and not be concerned with the bigger issues....can't see the forest for the trees sort of thing. Great comment and thank you!

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      carol stanley 5 years ago from Arizona

      Survival is not easy today especially when you have to support a family. Somehow no matter what is promised the middle class is slowly disappearing. Prices go up but wages do not. Even if you economize you still have basic bills to deal with if you want to survive...utilities, insurance etc. The ones at the top do benefit and make huge dollars. Glad you brought this out as well need constant reminders of what is going on out there. We tend to forget as get involved in our daily survival needs. Great Hub...