SOUTH MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – A plant accident resulted in the death of a worker at Caterpillar’s South Milwaukee plant. Sixty-year-old Steven Wade was hit in the head by a heavy metal plate resulting in his death. Wade was a United Steelworkers Local 1343 member.
Mining machinery equipment is manufactured is this plant that has been reducing its workforce since 2010. With hundreds laid off, the facity only has about about 100 employees. There is general concern among workers that with staff reductions the plant has become a dangerous place.
Following the accident, Caterpillar issued a statement saying it was “deeply saddened” by the death of Wade and insisting it was “firmly committed to protecting the health and safety of its employees. However, the company has consistently cut jobs which has put more pressure on employees affecting working conditions at the facility. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), has fined CAT for safety violations at this location.
The injury comes as Caterpillar is in the midst of a global cost-cutting program. The consolidation of its South Milwaukee operation is expected by the end of the year. CAT is planning to close a work tools plant in Texas and a demonstration center in Panama. It is also threatening the closure of its engine plant in La Grange, Illinois, with the loss of about 600 jobs. With these layoffs, Caterpillar will have cut 15,000 jobs since it announced its cost reduction plan in 2015.
Caterpillar has decided to contract out jobs and set up operations overseas. Thirty plants have been closed or consolidated in the states while their profits are strong.
The company posted a profit of $754 million in 2017 and even better results are predicted for 2018.