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MOUNT PLEASANT — When the votes were tallied, a majority of striking CNH Industrial workers rejected the company’s latest offer. In response, company representatives said they were disappointed and confirmed operations would continue at its Burlington, Iowa, and Mount Pleasant locations.

Workers voted 45 percent for the contract and 55 percent against, according to a story from KWQC-TV in Iowa.

Union strike CNH
Members of UAW Local 180, who have been on strike against tractor manufacturer CNH Industrial since May 2, are given copies of a contract offer as they prepare to vote on the company’s latest contract offer at Starbuck Middle School Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023. Results of the vote are scheduled to be announced Monday. The union president expects the contract offer to be rejected by union members. Replacement workers have been assembling tractors during the strike. / © Mark Hertzberg – Special to Racine County Eye

Seven hundred workers went on strike on May 2, 2022, demanding improved health benefits, better wages and working conditions, and adjusted pay based on the cost of living.

Former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) visited striking workers here in June 2022 when the strike was almost eight weeks old. His visit followed a letter he and Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) sent CNH Industrial CEO Scott Wine a letter expressing their support for workers.

During his remarks, Sanders said, “CNH made over $1.7 billion in profit. And if CNH can afford to provide its CEO, Scott Wine, with a $9.2 million signing bonus and $22 million in compensation for one year of work, which is about 8,000 times the raise that is offered for some workers, then surely they can afford to pay all of its workers decent wages.”

In October, Rich Glowacki, chairman of UAW Local 180’s bargaining committee and president of the UAW CNH Industrial Council, told Wisconsin Public Radio’s Joe Schulz about the discrepancy between what CNH Industrial pays employees at other North American plants.

“The company pays all their other North American facilities (employees) between $26 to $27 an hour to assemble the product that they assemble in those plants. We can’t even get the company anywhere near that number.”

Rich Glowacki, chairman, UAW Local 180 bargaining committee
Union strike CNH
© Mark Hertzberg – Special to Racine County Eye

Under the agreement that expired before the strike commenced, wages were about $21 an hour, the story continues.

Another issue is health care benefits Glowacki says could change from year-to-year, which makes voting for anything the company might offer difficult to defend.

Union strike CNH
© Mark Hertzberg – Special to Racine County Eye

Laura Dresser is the associate director of the COWS economic think tank at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Dresser told WPR that tight labor markets and the pandemic—especially for employees deemed essential, as those at CNH Industrial were—has triggered workers into demanding their contributions be valued accordingly.

In its statement to KWQC, the company urged the union to reconsider its position so members could get back to work. Nick Guernsey, President of UAW Local 807, told the station the union would host meetings to determine the path forward.

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