Iowa workers on strike since May have rejected the latest offer from Case-New Holland International to return to work, saying the company wasn’t even offering what replacement workers are currently making.
The strike of more than 1,000 workers involves United Auto Workers (UAW) members at Case-New Holland International (CNHi) plants, about 400 of which are in Burlington, Iowa, and another 600 some in Racine, Wisconsin.
CNH said the offer—the first successfully negotiated since the strike began May 2—included raises of at least 25% over four years. That amounts to raises of a little more than 6% per year, even though inflation rates for the past two years have been 7% or above.
Burlington workers accepted the deal, but their Wisconsin counterparts did not. Altogether, members rejected the vote on a 45-55% split.
“The members spoke, and now we’ve got to find a path forward with the company,” Burlington local union president Nick Guernsey told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
The specific percentage who accepted the offer in Burlington wasn’t immediately known. Guernsey was not immediately available for comment Monday.
In Racine, Rich Glowacki, chairman of the bargaining committee for UAW Local 180, said he was “shocked” members asked so few questions of the offer.
“They’re not happy. They feel betrayed,” he told the paper. “They feel the company should be compensating them better, the benefits should be better, the health insurance needs to be better.”
In a statement, CNHi doubled down on its offer and said the union should just take “another vote,” while recommitting to using replacement workers in its plants until then.
“While we await the union’s next step, CNH Industrial remains committed to honoring and meeting the needs and demands of our customers and, therefore, we will continue operations at both our Burlington and Racine sites,” the company said.
Ironically for union members, those replacement workers—who are called “scabs” for crossing the picket lines—are making more money than the company was paying or offering unionized workers, claims Racine’s local union president Yasin Mahdi.
“They’re paying their non-union (employees) $27 per hour, today,” Mahdi said. “I don’t know what the problem is with paying us the same thing.”
The UAW said Saturday that its bargaining committee would “meet to discuss next steps to take with CHNi,” but did not go into further detail.
by Amie Rivers
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