Caterpillar Inc. closing 5 plants, cutting 670 jobs

Caterpillar Inc. closing 5 plants, cutting 670 jobs

The East Peoria, Ill., plant will be the hardest hit, losing 230 jobs for office and production workers. As neighboring states grow factory work, Illinois is approaching an all-time low for manufacturing jobs.

Illinois just capped off a dismal year for blue-collar workers, losing 14,000 manufacturing jobs on net in 2015 alone.

So far, 2016 isn’t looking much brighter.

Caterpillar announced on Jan. 29 that it plans to shutter five plants and shed 670 jobs in Illinois and other states as part of a cost-cutting overhaul announced last year. Caterpillar’s East Peoria, Ill., plant will suffer the most, losing 230 jobs for office and production workers.

Those searching for answers regarding the fall of Illinois industry would be wise to read a 2011 letter to state lawmakers from Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman.

To help Illinois compete for quality jobs and investment, Oberhelman recommended genuine workers’ compensation reform and a balanced state budget that offers certainty and tax relief in the long term.

“Business leaders are making decisions today on where to invest in the future,” Oberhelman wrote. “Illinois must act now, with a bipartisan sense of urgency, to position itself for future job creation that is being discussed in boardrooms all across this country.”

Illinoisans in the manufacturing sector have experienced more economic pain and job losses than workers in any other industry. The reforms needed to stop the suffering include:

Illinois’ middle class is starved for tax relief and economic reform. Without both, expect factory opportunities to continue disappearing in the Land of Lincoln.

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