Is this how to build our economic future?
Regarding the Caterpillar, Inc. strike settlement this summer, Douglas Oberhelman, Chairman and CEO of Caterpillar, said he must drive a hard bargain against union workers in order to be "market competitive" throughout the world. This settlement became corporate welfare because Caterpillar workers were so lowly paid they qualified for food stamps and were forced to use this program to feed their families.
When skilled machinists are forced to take food subsidies to get by, the company is receiving corporate welfare and there is no incentive for people to enter this work because they are so poorly paid. However, there was a reward: Mr. Oberhelman received a $17 million annual compensation package for breaking the strike and forcing workers to accept a contract based on "concession bargaining." Hourly pay for veterans was frozen, pensions ended and health care premiums doubled.
If Mr. Oberhelman had accepted only $10 million, bonuses of over $9,000 could have been paid to each of 740 machinists or their annual wages could have been raised $4.70 an hour. With Caterpillar's example of short sighted thinking, how competitive will our country be in 10 years when there are too few people in the machine trades and none wanting to enter them?
Is federally subsidized corporate welfare the way to build America's economic future? It provides inordinate compensation to managers and starves workers.