Obama promises laid off workers jobs at Caterpillar plant in East Peoria

SHARE Obama promises laid off workers jobs at Caterpillar plant in East Peoria

By Abdon M. Pallasch

Chicago Sun-Times Political Reporter

EAST PEORIA, Ill. Once President Obama signs the $789 billion stimulus

package, roads will start getting built again, orders for Caterpillar trucks

will go up again and the company can start hiring back some of the 22,000

workers it plans to lay off, he said.

Think about all the work out there to be done, and Caterpillar will be

selling the equipment that does the work, Obama said to hundreds of

Caterpillar workers at a plant here.

He spoke in front of two new-model Caterpillar electric road-building

machines.

Obama was introduced by laid-off Caterpillar worker Dan Armstrong and

Caterpillar CEO Jim Owens, who said he hoped to be able to bring back

Armstrong and other laid-off workers eventually.

Its not going to create 22,000 jobs I can tell you that right now, said

31-year Caterpillar veteran Darrell Corbin. But I hope it will be able to

bring some of em back.

Obama said he stopped in Peoria on his way to an Abraham Lincoln celebration

in Springfield because: You have to see how things are playing in Peoria.

Obama hinted he has not given up on getting at least one Republican vote in

the House for the final version of his stimulus package, calling out local

GOP Congressman Aaron Schock, who replaced Obamas new Transportation

Secretary Ray LaHood.

Aaron is still trying to make up his mind about our recovery package,

Obama said with a smile. He has a chance to be in the mold of [former U.S.

Rep.] Bob Michel, Ray LaHood. We know youre all going to talk to him after

our event because hes a very talented young man. I have great confidence in

him to do the right thing for the people of Peoria.

Schock said after the event he is not optimistic that he will like the bill

but he will look at it.

Also after Obamas speech, Caterpillar CEO Jim Owens said the 22,000 layoffs

will go ahead even if the bill is signed and there may be more layoffs

after that.

Owens said only about 20 percent of the bill is hard construction projects

that will help Caterpillar, and those wont start helping the company until

late this year, at which point they might be able to start hiring workers

back.

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