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MOUNT PLEASANT – U.S. Labor Secretary Martin (Marty) Walsh was reportedly involved in talks that ultimately ended a lengthy labor dispute between two United Auto Workers (UAW) locals and CNH Industrial.

The strike, involving factories at Mount Pleasant and Burlington, Iowa, ended with the announcement that UAW members had ratified a new, four-year contract on Saturday. The UAW, which represents about 1,100 hourly employees at the two locations, had been on strike since May 2, 2022.

Walsh conducted a mediation session between the two sides sometime last week. In a statement by CNH on Monday morning, the company stated, “The employees voted on, and accepted, a last, best and final offer presented by CNH Industrial after a mediation session conducted by U.S Secretary of Labor Martin Walsh.”

The CNH Industrial statement was the first public identification of Walsh’s involvement in ending the strike. In an interview with The Associated Press last week, UAW President Ray Curry said that he was hopeful a deal would be reached “within the next week or two” and presented to workers for another vote. However, he said nothing of Walsh’s presence nor declined to disclose any other details.

Members of UAW Local 180, representing workers at the CNH plant at 7100 Durand Ave., Mount Pleasant, met Saturday afternoon at Starbuck Middle School in Racine, where a ratification vote was taken on the new agreement. A similar vote by members of UAW Local 807 was taken in Burlington, Iowa, over the weekend.

CNH Industrial manufactures farm tractors under the Case IH and New Holland brands at its Mount Pleasant factory at 7100 Durand Ave. (Durand and Oakes Road). The company produces loader backhoes and other construction equipment at the Iowa plant.

Headquartered in the United Kingdom, CNH Industrial has 37,000 employees worldwide.

CNH Industrial
Members of UAW Local 180, who have been on strike against tractor manufacturer CNH Industrial since May 2, vote on a new contract proposal Saturday, Jan. 21, 2022, at Starbuck Middle School. Workers at the Case Tractor plant in Burlington, Iowa, have also been on strike and were voting. Union members turned down an earlier contract proposal two weeks ago, with Racine members outvoting the Iowa members who favored that contract proposal. Replacement workers have been assembling tractors during the strike. The president of the UAW said Friday, Jan. 20, that the new proposal would have a good chance of being approved. / © Mark Hertzberg Exclusive to Racine County Eye

Few contract details available

Neither CNH nor the UAW has disclosed details about the new contract. UAW members at both locations turned down a tentative offer on Jan. 7, including wage increases of 28% to 38% over four years. Media reports at the time stated that union members were unhappy with the proposed healthcare provisions.

At the beginning of the strike last May, workers at the two plants rejected a three-year deal that included 18.5% in wage increases. They cited concerns that the proposed raises wouldn’t cover higher inflation and health insurance costs, The Associated Press reported.

In its Sunday statement about the successful contract ratification vote, the UAW said: “The agreement, which was voted on as an improved last, best, and final offer, provides wage increases, shift premium increases, classification upgrades as well as other improvements.”

“UAW members at Locals 180 and 807 did the hard work to strengthen the hand of negotiators,” UAW President Curry stated. “This agreement reflects the effort of a determined bargaining team and members being on an almost nine-month strike.”

In its own statement, CNH Industrial officials said they were “pleased to have a new contract in place that is fair and equitable for UAW-represented employees.”

“I would like to thank our bargaining team, the UAW leadership and Mr. Walsh, who helped us navigate the complexities of the negotiation process and end the strike,” Scott W. Wine, CNH Industrial CEO, said in a statement. “We look forward to welcoming our employees back to work, building the machines that help our customers feed the world and build its essential infrastructure.”

About Secretary Walsh

U.S. Labor Secretary, Martin (Marty) Walsh
U.S. Labor Secretary, Martin “Marty” Walsh

Walsh was tapped by President Joe Biden to serve as U.S. Secretary of Labor in January 2021. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on a vote of 68-29 on March 22, 2021, and sworn in the next day.

Prior to being nominated for the presidential cabinet post, Walsh had been mayor of Boston since 2014. He was also a local union officer and served in the Massachusetts State Legislature before being elected Boston’s mayor.

Late last year, Walsh’s office helped negotiate a tentative agreement between major U.S. railroads and unionized workers. That session prevented a strike that would have crippled U.S. supply chains and halted commuter and intercity passenger rail services.

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Paul Holley is retired from careers in journalism, public relations and marketing but not from life. These days, he pretty much writes about what he feels like writing. You may contact him directly at:...

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