Caterpillar workers wait as union negotiates with company

SOUTH MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Hundreds of workers at Caterpillar are waiting as their union negotiates with the company. The company has said layoffs were coming, but employees worry what else?

The union meeting was held not far from the Caterpillar plant in South Milwaukee on Tuesday, April 9th. Union leaders say they don't have much solid information to report at this time, and they say morale isn't good.

Tom Torgersen has worked at Caterpillar for 45 years. Because of his seniority, Torgersen doesn't think he will be laid off, but he said younger workers are worried.

"It's not a pretty picture. It's people's livelihood. They don't know what the future's gonna hold," Torgersen said.

Jake Cychosz has been at the plant, formerly owned by Bucyrus for almost 18 years. He thinks his job is safe, but agrees morale isn't good.

"The younger guys that have been here less than four-five years, I would imagine you would be -- got families and things to pay for. I'd be concerned," Cychosz said.

One employee told FOX6 News the company already reduced his hours last month to 32 -- so many of the employees are concerned about hours and wages being cut.

Union leaders met with some workers on Tuesday afternoon, April 9th -- saying they were still in negotiations with the company and no details could be reported.

Caterpillar has said the layoffs will be temporary, but some workers speculated the layoffs were actually meant to intimidate the employees during these contract talks.

Whatever the case, the talks are still going on, and Torgersen says so far, it's not looking good.

"The initial proposal doesn't paint a pretty picture for us," Torgersen said.

Union leaders say they will be meeting with the company again Wednesday morning, as negotiations continue.

There is likely no way for them to avoid the layoffs, but everyone is worried about what the future holds as far as a possible wage freeze or cuts in benefits. Right now, they cannot say for sure.