“We Can Never Make Enough Money” CEO Tells Ever-Poorer Workers

200px-Caterpillar_logo.svg“Caterpillar has pioneered a two-tier wage system in which workers hired after a certain date are consigned to a significantly lower wage scale than others and it recently pressed its longer-term employees into accepting a six year wage freeze.  Many Caterpillar workers ask why the company insisted on a pay freezer when it reported repeated record profits-$5.7 billion last year, amounting to $45,000 per Caterpillar employee.  Caterpillar’s chief executive, Douglas Oberhelman (whose compensation has increased more than 80 percent over the last two years) says the freeze was vital to keep wages competitive with rival companies.  “I always try to communicate to our people that we can never make enough money”,  he recently told Bloomberg BusinessWeek.  “We can never make enough profit.”

Steven Greenhouse, “Fighting Back Against Wretched Wages.” New York Times. July 28, 2013

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David Morris is co-founder of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and currently ILSR's distinguished fellow. His five non-fiction books range from an analysis of Chilean development to the future of electric power to the transformation of cities and neighborhoods.  For 14 years he was a regular columnist for the Saint Paul Pioneer Press. His essays on public policy have appeared in the New York TimesWall Street Journal, Washington PostSalonAlternetCommon Dreams, and the Huffington Post.