United Auto Workers, Case suspend negotiations without agreement
Daily Review Atlas (Monmouth, IL)
United Auto Workers Local 807 representatives returned to Burlington late Tuesday after a day of failed contract negotiations with Case New Holland Industrial.
Nick Guernsey, president of UAW Local 807, said the two parties abandoned talks after another proposal by the company that, aside from a half-percent wage increase at the end of the third contract year, was unchanged from the previous offer. Local 807 represents 430 of the 1,100 workers in Burlington and Racine, Wisconsin, who have been on strike against Case since May 2.
"It was a wasted trip," Guernsey said after returning from Madison, Wisconsin, where negotiations have been taking place. "They didn't address any of the issues — health care, vacation, any of it."
The failed round of negotiations came as a disappointment for Guernsey, albeit an unsurprising one. He said he does not feel the company is taking workers' demands seriously despite a recent show of support in the form of a letter sent to CNHI CEO Scott Wine from a group of U.S. senators led by Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), who will visit Burlington on Friday to meet with workers.
Sanders' town hall will be at the Crapo Park bandshell. People may begin to arrive at 2:30 p.m., with the event to begin at 3:30.
Guernsey said the UAW's increase in weekly strike pay from $275 to $400 that began this week, coupled with the fact that those on strike now may work a second job regardless of whether it pays more than what they receive in strike pay, has better positioned Case's unionized employees to hold out for a longer period of time.
"The UAW's stepping up, giving us an extra $125 a week, waiving the fact that we can get a second income on top of it," Guernsey said. "My members aren't hungry right now."
UAW wants parity pay, bonuses and six-year contract
The proposal presented to Case representatives by the UAW was based upon a survey union members completed this year.
Guernsey said it includes parity pay with CNHI's non-unionized plants, plus 10%. Starting pay now is $20.83 per hour. According to previous UAW estimates, Guernsey said, CNH's non-union plants pay about $5.50 per hour more than the union plants in Burlington and Racine, but the company still has not provided information about pay at other plants to the UAW.
The union also wants raises for its members in the third and fifth year of a six-year contract. Case's proposal, he said, is for a three-year contract.
"To take a three-year deal in this kind of environment is professional suicide," Guernsey said, expressing concerns over the future of the Burlington plant.
Also on the union's list are lump-sum bonuses and getting company relief on wage structure in non-raise years.
"You got Vista Bakery in town. Their wage is $20-something an hour," Guernsey said. "We start out at $20.83 and we're building heavy equipment. I don't think we're out of line here."
What to know about the pay offered by Case in its previous proposal
CNHI's previous proposal, made May 19, was sent by mail to unionized employees this month after the UAW's decision to not put it to vote and shared with The Hawk Eye. That proposal said the company would pay skilled trades workers between 12% and 25% increases, depending on job classification and labor grade.
Skilled workers also would see a 4% increase in May 2023 and a 3.5% increase in May 2024.
Non-skilled workers would receive an 18% increase over three years, with an 8.5% increase after contract ratification, a 3% increase in May 2023 and 2024, and a 3.5% increase in March 2025.
Under the proposal put forward by the company Tuesday, an additional 0.5% would be added in the third contract year.
The company previously said it was proud of that contract offer.
"CNH Industrial is proud of the comprehensive offer it made to the union on May 19," the company said in a statement sent to The Hawk Eye on May 23. "The terms of this final offer include significant economic improvements for employees over the terms contained in the company's last proposal given to the union on May 1."
Guernsey previously said that proposal may appear attractive to the union's younger membership, but the pay increases would not amount to much when accounting for the change in insurance plans included in the proposal.
"Even if my members took raises right now, we'd lose money on the insurance side because it's definitely inadequate and subpar to what we have now," he said, estimating that a first-year assembler would make $30 per week more than what they do now under those terms.
Proposed insurance plan options come with higher premiums, out-of-pocket costs
Under CNHI's previous proposal, union members would be able to choose between four individual and family health insurance plans in 2023 and three plans in 2025.
Annual premiums for individual plans would range from $0 to $2,004, with deductibles ranging from between $2,500 to $6,800 and maximum out-of-pocket costs of between $2,500 and $6,800.
Individual plans previously available through the company had Preferred Provider Organization annual premiums of $1,800, $500 deductibles and a maximum out-of-pocket cost of $1,500.
The proposed plans also include a contribution from CNHI of $500 for individual plans and $1,000 for family plans. Case did not provide contributions under the previous plan.
Employee and family plans would have annual premiums of between $60 and $6,060, compared to the previous $5,052 premium; deductibles of between $3,000 and $6,400 compared to the previous $1,000 deductible; and maximum out-of-pocket costs ranging between $5,000 and $13,200, compared to $5,000 under the plan included in the six-year contract that expired April 30.
Looking ahead: 'How much are they willing to lose?'
While Case's unionized employees continue to strike, an unknown number of replacement workers continue to work in the Burlington plant.
Guernsey is skeptical of how much the plant is capable of producing under a possibly lower workforce.
"It took 400 of us to sustain that building day to day," Guernsey said. "There's going to be a trigger point — whether it's stocks that have been lost, a dollar amount that they've lost — to end this strike. It's just going to come down to finances. How much are they willing to lose?"
He is hopeful political pressure will have the desired effect, though he said he believes Racine has greater political power than Burlington.
"They've got a little more pull with members of the Senate and local government there," Guernsey said. "The mayor of the city is really behind them. The mayor of Racine is actively walking the picket line. ... They're going to be able to put a little bit more pressure than we are, because Burlington, Iowa, in the grand scheme of things, isn't a political hotbed."
Michaele Niehaus covers business, development, environment and agriculture for The Hawk Eye. She can be reached at [email protected].