Coalition plans to protest Caterpillar sales to Israel

PEORIA, IL: A coalition of groups plans at least two events this month to crank up public pressure against Caterpillar for selling bulldozers to Israel. The heavy equipment is used to demolish houses of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

PEORIA, IL: A coalition of groups plans at least two events this month to crank up public pressure against Caterpillar for selling bulldozers to Israel. The heavy equipment is used to demolish houses of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

The Stop Cat Coalition, made up of 50 groups, is planning a press conference for Wednesday at Caterpillar's annual meeting in Chicago. An April 23 march and rally is also planned in Peoria. It will end at Cat headquarters, said Jeff Frank, a coalition volunteer.

Anti-Cat efforts will continue if the company doesn't agree to stop selling to Israel, Frank said.

For its part, Caterpillar does not plan changes in its communications efforts to counter the protests, said Benjamin Cordani of Caterpillar's corporate public affairs department.

The heavy equipment maker has publicly stated its position and is communicating with employees via e-mails and in face-to-face meetings, Cordani said.

Caterpillar's stance is that it has no legal right or means to oversee how its equipment is used around the world.

The company lays out its position in a proxy statement for its annual meeting, where shareholders are being asked to vote on a proposal that Caterpillar look into whether selling equipment to Israel violates the company's code of business conduct. The company is recommending a no vote on that proposal

Cordani said Caterpillar isn't working with any crisis communications agency. It does, however, work with a variety of PR firms on many projects, he said.

The coalition is calling April 23 "International Day of Action Against Caterpillar."

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