Clayton hopeful Caterpillar will rehire workers

CLAYTON Today President Barack Obama toured a Caterpillar plant in Illinois.

CAT's CEO said earlier this week if the stimulus plan was approved, he would be able to rehire some of the 20,000 workers whose jobs were cut.

That includes workers at three North Carolina facilities.

The final stimulus plan is yet to be signed by President Obama, but that is expected soon.

"I think it's great news to hear that the stimulus package they're talking about in Washington will have a local impact," Clayton Town Manager Steve Biggs said.

The White House suggested several times Wednesday that the world's biggest maker of construction equipment would be able to rehire employees if Congress approved the $789 billion stimulus bill.

President Obama's visit to the Caterpillar plant in Illinois drove home that message.

"The fact that the President would visit their headquarters speaks to the importance they have in our economy," Biggs said.

But in Clayton, some argue Caterpillar is the economy.

In December, all temporary employees were laid off and their lives were flipped upside down because of it.

"In February, we'll be moving because the house we have is way too pricey for what we have now," former Caterpillar Melissa Blue told Eyewitness News in December.

It's unknown how many more people in Clayton lost their jobs when the company announced 20,000 more cuts a few weeks ago.

It's also unclear how many workers CAT will be able to rehire.

But people remain optimistic in Clayton -- a town where until now, bad news was only getting worse.

"It's tough on every family, it's tough on the community, it's tough on the friends of those who are out placed," Biggs said. "So, i think this is very encouraging news."

Eyewitness News made multiple calls today to Caterpillar in an effort to get details on how the stimulus plan could benefit workers in Clayton.

No one returned the phone calls.

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