More than 1,000 members of the United Auto Workers have gone on strike at plants Iowa and Wisconsin owned by CNH Industrial N.V.
The strike at CNH, the third strike by the UAW against a major employer in the past 12 months, could be a harbinger of strife coming to the auto industry next year as union members look for an end to the concessions approved during the great recession.
Union members went on strike last year after rejecting tentative contract proposed by union bargainers at John Deere and Volvo Truck in Virginia, and the 2019 contract talks in the auto industry were marked by a 40-day walkout against General Motors.
The strike at CNH started at midday May 2 after the company failed to present an agreement that met member demands and needs, according to the UAW.
The unrest around the nation’s factories, according to experts, is amplified by the stress from the pandemic, inflation and complaints many plants are short-handed because employers are having a difficult time recruiting new employees.
CNH part of Exor’s holdings
CNH is an American-Italian multinational corporation with global headquarters in Basildon, United Kingdom, but controlled and mostly owned by the multinational investment company Exor, which also owns a major stake in Stellantis, a likely UAW target in 2023.
John Elkann, the head of Italy’s wealthy Agnelli family, serves as chairman of both Exor and Stellantis. Could this move serve as precursor for the next round of negotiations.
At CNH, the maker of agricultural equipment under the J.I.Case and New Holland brands, the union says it is looking for a better standard of living, retirement benefits, and a better work environment, according to the UAW.
“Our members at CNH strike for the ability to earn a decent living, retire with dignity, and establish fair work rules,” said Chuck Browning, vice president and director of the UAW’s Agricultural Implement Department. “We stay committed to bargaining until our members goals are achieved.”
“Our members are working in solidarity and ready to hold out and fight for a contract they believe meets their needs,” said Ron McInroy, director of the UAW’s Region 4. “Our members and their families appreciate the community support they have already gotten. Strikes are never easy, but the fight for better working conditions at work is worth it.”
The issues seem to be similar to those involved in the strike by more than 10,000 UAW members John Deere & Co., who went on strike in fall 2021. At Deere, union workers rejected management proposals about wage increases as well as health care and retirement benefits. That strike lasted five weeks before a new six-year contract was finalized and approved.
“All UAW members are united with UAW CNH workers,” UAW President Ray Curry said.
“UAW CNH members have worked through the pandemic after the company deemed them essential, to produce the equipment that feeds America, builds America and powers the American economy. They are a strong united union voice on the picket line they can make a difference for working families here and throughout the country.”
In the Deere strike, UAW members ultimately saw a 10% raise and improved benefits for their efforts as well as revisions to the two-tier wage schedule.