Caterpillar to Start Recalling Workers

CATERPILLAR Inc. began recalling workers Monday after turning unionized workers away on two days last week, and an industry publication says company chairman Donald Fites is taking an "enormous gamble" in the labor confrontation.

Caterpillar said last week it would begin recalling workers yesterday but also said it needs 1,350 fewer workers than before the United Automobile Workers began its more than five-month walkout.

The bitter strike ended last Tuesday when union leadership, during a meeting with federal mediators, agreed to return to work unconditionally while talks continue toward a new contract. No date was set for new talks.

Caterpillar, the world's largest maker of heavy construction equipment, had issued an ultimatum, saying it would hire replacements for any workers who did not cross picket lines and return to work earlier this month.

Industry Week said the decision to impose its "final" offer on strikers and advertise for replacement workers "threatens to undermine the strength of the United Auto Workers."

But it added that the tack taken by Mr. Fites had "destroyed the labor cooperation" built by his predecessor after a bitter 205-day strike 10 years ago.

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