WASHINGTON -- Caterpillar Inc. must pay former strikers who missed out on food and other rewards that the company gave to workers who remained on the job or who crossed picket lines during the 17-month strike, the National Labor Relations Board said yesterday. The company discriminated against picketing workers during strikes between June 1994 and December 1995 by providing free meals, ice cream, beverages, flu shots and T-shirts to nonstrikers and temporary help, the NLRB said.
Such action contradicts the National Labor Relations Act because the company rewarded workers with benefits outside union contracts, the board said.
Caterpillar was "restraining and coercing employees in the exercising of their rights" by offering material rewards as appreciation for their continued work, the NLRB said.
The NLRB didn't specify how much Caterpillar should pay to re-establish equality among employees, though it said the total amount to be worked out is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
No one at Caterpillar headquarters in Peoria, Ill., was available for comment. An official in the NLRB regional director's office in Peoria said Caterpillar has indicated that it doesn't want to settle and will dispute the matter in a future hearing.
Caterpillar has 14 days to answer the complaint, after which the board will consider the company guilty and responsible for payment.
Pub Date: 12/28/96