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One of the longest strikes in the U.S. is over. Here's what we know about the CNH Industrial contract with United Auto Workers

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel 1/24/2023 Ricardo Torres, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
UAW on Strike signs are ready for CNH Industrial workers to picket on Nov. 17 at 2701 Oakes Road in Mount Pleasant. © Ebony Cox / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel UAW on Strike signs are ready for CNH Industrial workers to picket on Nov. 17 at 2701 Oakes Road in Mount Pleasant.

After more than 260 days on strike, roughly 1,100 CNH Industrial workers in Wisconsin and Iowa are going back to work after a new contract was voted on and signed over the weekend.  

The details of the new contract, which extends until 2026, have not been revealed. On Monday, the farm equipment manufacturer and union revealed that U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh helped bring the two sides to the negotiating table.

The length of the strike has put pressure on workers and management, with some seeing the result as a success and others viewing it as not enough.

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Strike began in Mount Pleasant and Iowa May 2

Workers at CNH facilities in Mount Pleasant and Burlington, Iowa, went on strike on May 2. That same day the company brought in busloads of replacement workers to continue production.  

The workers from United Auto Workers Local 180 in Mount Pleasant and Local 807 in Burlington picketed outside local facilities every day and night until the strike ended.  

The strike gathered the attention of high-profile public officials such as U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, who visited Mount Pleasant in June.  

The two sides went months without talking before taking a vote on an offer from the company two weeks ago. The workers rejected that proposal.  

Workers have struggled to make ends meet while on strike. Other unions and members from the greater Racine community have donated money, food and toys to the workers while they were on strike.

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh got involved

U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh stepped in to mediate discussions between the two sides and helped them get to an agreement.  

The meetings with the company and Walsh took place in Washington, D.C., in December. The company only wanted to talk about limited issues, which upset local union officials, said Rich Glowacki, chairman of the bargaining committee for UAW Local 180.

“They dropped their proposal off on Tuesday night, we were supposed to meet Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. to continue talking, and we were informed by the secretary that they took off Tuesday night,” Glowacki said of the mediation back in December.

“The improvements that we achieved at Marty’s intervention was presented in the first LBFO vote on January 7, and that one got voted down,” Glowacki said, adding they tried to get Walsh involved again in the recent round of negotiations and “unfortunately the company told him ‘no.’” 

Previous offers from CNH Industrial

While the details of the contract are not known, wages, healthcare and paid time off are some of the major factors involved.

Workers have been vocal on the need for wages to be more equal to the other manufacturing companies in Racine, Milwaukee and Kenosha counties.

Yasin Mahdi, president of UAW Local 180, said in previously that the company is paying non-union employees more than union employees.

“They’re paying their non-union (employees) $27 per hour, today,” Mahdi said after the union rejected the contract in early January. “I don’t know what the problem is with paying us the same thing.” 

The company has said in the past proposals that wage increases range from 25% to 38% during the following four years after the contract is ratified.

Vacation time is also a major issue. Workers want to be able to use their paid time off freely, but the company, in past proposals, has wanted control of one of the weeks of vacation during the "summer vacation shutdown."

“Who wants to work at a place for five years to get two weeks (vacation) and you’re going to dictate when I could take one of the weeks,” Mahdi said last fall. “That’s unheard of. This is 2022, it’s not 1982. This is nuts.” 

Another issue has been healthcare. Workers want to get rid of a two tiered system that's based on when workers were hired.

It's unclear if that system is still in place under the newly ratified contract.

Company and national union pleased

The company released a statement saying it is “pleased to have a new contract in place that is fair and equitable for its 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 Wine, CEO of CNH Industrial, said in the 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.” 

Some local union members unhappy

Some union members, including Glowacki, were less than satisfied.

“Once again, CNH has displayed how little their employees matter to them,” Glowacki said. “Their compensation package was deficient to the local (Racine) area labor market. And they once again, they have not shown us to be the true corporate citizen that they allege to be in public.”  

The national UAW appears to be satisfied with the result of the negotiations.

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

But closer to home, Glowacki said some workers are upset with the contract.

“CNH doesn’t deserve the employees that work for them,” Glowacki said. “And they’re going to find out real fast.”  

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: One of the longest strikes in the U.S. is over. Here's what we know about the CNH Industrial contract with United Auto Workers

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