At Midnight, the six-year contract between caterpillar and the united auto workers expires. Both sides are negotiating at this hour in East Peoria. But a gag order being honored by both sides has kept information on the state of contract talks at a minimum.
Late Monday night will be the first indication of how negotiations are progressing at the bargaining table. If there is a contract extension, analyst say it is a sign an agreement is close at hand.
No extension means the union is trying to create more leverage at the bargaining table. Letting the contract expire means the union leadership could call for a strike.
ISU labor expert Victor Devinatz says the company has the upper hand right now.
"I do think Caterpillar has a lot of leverage here. If the UAW really felt that the contract wasn't any good, I think they would consider various types of actions. But if they feel they can get a half way decent agreement based on the environment I feel that they are going to negotiate a tentative agreement and bring it back to the membership," Devinatz.
Devinatz says if the union does strike, white collar workers will man the assembly line much as they did in the 1990's during a series of walk outs and wildcat strikes.
Even though Cat may have more leverage with high unemployment right now, Devinatz says the company can't appear to be greedy in the eyes of the worker on the shop floor.