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15 Wisconsin LGBT Chamber members score perfect 100 on HRC’s ‘2017 Corporate Equality Index’

Continue reading 15 Wisconsin LGBT Chamber members score perfect 100 on HRC’s ‘2017 Corporate Equality Index’

Caterpillar eliminating 200 jobs in northern Wisconsin

Caterpillar’s restructuring plans include eliminating more than 200 jobs in northern Wisconsin.

The heavy equipment manufacturer will shut down its forest products plant in the Price County village of Prentice, as well as four other plants in the U.S. and China.

Caterpillar says it will move the work done by 220 employees in Prentice facilities in Georgia and Texas by the end of the year. The company also says it’s negotiating with a possible buyer for the Prentice plant, but provided no other details.

Overall Caterpillar plans to reduce its workforce by 670 employees. U.S. facilities in Illinois, Georgia and New Mexico are also affected.

Caterpillar cut funds to Boy Scouts because of discrimination

Caterpillar Inc. is no longer giving money to the Boy Scouts because the organization discriminates against gays, a spokeswoman for the Illinois-based heavy equipment manufacturer confirmed in June 13.

The company’s move wasn’t directly tied to the recent Boy Scouts decision to continue to bar gay adults from roles within the organization while allowing openly gay children to be scouts. Instead, spokeswoman Rachel Potts said, the company decided to cut off funding while reviewing a request for $25,000 that came in last year from a local group in Illinois.

That decision was never announced publicly or communicated to the Boy Scouts of America, only to the local group, she said. But she added that the Boy Scouts’ policy that continues to bar gay adults from working in the organization is “discriminatory.”

Caterpillar has made donations in the past to the Boy Scouts of America, and the company’s charitable arm, the Caterpillar Foundation, has donated money to local scouting groups in areas where it has factories and other facilities, Potts said. She declined to provide a dollar figure.

“We have inclusive policies here at Caterpillar Inc., and the foundation abides by those,” she said. “We just don’t feel that our two organizations align.”

“However,” she added, “if there’s a change in the Boy Scouts’ policies, we would certainly consider a change in the future grants – if there was a change that aligned with what our non-discrimination policies are.”

A Boy Scouts spokesman called the decision a disappointment.

“Although, we are disappointed in this decision we believe Caterpillar is a great company and appreciate all it has done for the youth in local communities,” public relations director Deron Smith said in an emailed statement. “Our focus continues to be on working together to deliver the foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training.”

The decision by Caterpillar was first reported on June 12 by The Journal Star in Peoria, the central Illinois city where the company is based.

The local organization that was turned down, Potts said, is the Peoria-based W.D. Boyce Council. It includes scout groups across a large part of central Illinois.

Council Executive Director George Clay did not return a call on June 13 from The Associated Press.

Since the Boy Scouts’ decision last month to allow openly gay children to be scouts, a number of churches around the country – which often sponsor local scout troops – have cut ties with the group.

But prohibitions against both gay scouts and adult leaders have long driven protests against the Boy Scouts. Last year, several companies withdrew financial support, including Intel Corporation and United Parcel Service.

The leader of a group of former Eagle Scouts that has pushed for a change in those policies said the pressure that the donation withdrawal could have on Boy Scouts was important. But Zach Wahls, executive director of Iowa City, Iowa-based Scouts for Equality, believes Caterpillar’s decision reflects a broader shift in attitudes beyond scouting.

“This isn’t a crazy, progressive company that’s super liberal,” said Wahls, who grew up in Iowa and Wisconsin, and whose parents are lesbians. “(Caterpillar is) very much a middle-American company and I think this indicates where middle America is moving on this issue.”