GUNSHOT INCIDENT PRECEDES RECESS IN CATERPILLAR-UAW NEGOTIATIONS

GUNSHOT INCIDENT PRECEDES RECESS IN CATERPILLAR-UAW NEGOTIATIONS

Caterpillar and the United Auto Workers recessed their latest round of negotiations Thursday, just hours after someone fired several shots at the home of a Caterpillar spokesman.

Neither side would answer questions about the recess or say whether it was related to the shots."The parties intend to resume talks shortly," said Reggie McGhee, a union spokesman. "The UAW bargaining team will be meeting in Detroit next week to review the outcome of this week's talks."

He called the shooting "deplorable."

About five shots were fired Wednesday night at the home of spokesman Keith Butterfield, police said. Mr. Butterfield's family was home at the time and one shot narrowly missed him, but no one was injured.

After a five-month hiatus, the two sides resumed contract negotiations this week in hopes of ending a record-long strike. But this time they shunned federal mediators and avoided the public commentary that has marked past negotiations.

Neither side commented on whether negotiations Tuesday and Wednesday moved them any closer to ending the strike.

Although the union says it is striking over unfair labor practices by management, a contract dispute led to the feud. Caterpillar has proposed a two-tier wage system, along with changes in health care, job security and schedules.

The UAW has not had a contract with Caterpillar - the world leader in heavy equipment - since September 1991. The union went on strike when that contract expired. But the strike ended when Caterpillar threatened to hire replacements.

The current strike began June 20, 1994. The union complains that Caterpillar has violated federal labor laws. In a strike over unfair labor practices, strikers cannot be replaced.

More than 13,000 UAW members in Illinois, Pennsylvania and Colorado could participate in the strike, but the company says at least 4,000 have gone back to work and helped Caterpillar produce record profit.