Negotiations between CNH Industrial and United Auto Workers members on strike at plants in Burlington, Iowa, and Racine, Wisconsin, resumed Tuesday.
Representatives of both local unions have been in Madison, Wisconsin, to meet with leadership of the Case and New Holland construction manufacturer at the bargaining table.
According to a a CNH spokesperson "The company remains committed to reaching an agreement in the best interests of both the company and our UAW represented employees.”
Burlington UAW Local 807 President Nick Guernsey told The Hawk Eye newspaper that he is doubtful an agreement will be reached this week but remains optimistic of the overall process.
“We’re going in a positive direction,” he told The Hawk Eye on Wednesday. “As long as both sides are talking, I’m positive we’re going to get in a direction we need. It just might not happen this week.”
In the early stages, Guernsey suggested the strike could last up to six months.
According to the newspaper, CNH agreed to return to the bargaining table after receiving a written proposal from the UAW.
A representative from UAW Local 180 in Racine told Equipment World that union members are ready to return to work. “I’m really optimistic that the company is willing to give us a fair deal this time,” he said.
More than 1,000 UAW members called the strike May 2, about two months after negotiations began with CNH.
Based on discussions with representatives from both parties, CNH and UAW were apparently not close regarding the economic terms of a new labor agreement. Neither side has provided specific details as to where negotiations broke down, although UAW workers are looking for increased wages, more flexibility on time off, reduced overtime and more awareness of a safe work environment.
To a certain extent, it appeared the workers at the two plants were in part inspired by the John Deere walkout in October 2021 that lasted five weeks. That strike concluded with the employees receiving 10% raises and improved retirement benefits.
When the CNH strike began, negotiations were halted, although CNH officials had indicated a willingness to return to the table at any time. Union workers have been on the picket lines since then.
As of May 14, health care benefits for the union members transitioned from being provided by CNH to being provided by UAW. According to CNH, the transition was discussed before the strike, although no UAW representative would address the issue. Coverage under UAW only encompasses medical costs and prescription drugs but not dental or vision.
In addition to health coverage, the union members receive $275 per week in strike payments if they are actively participating in the strike.
From the onset, CNH maintained its intention to continue operations at the plants and has done so with salaried employees and temporary workers brought in to replace those on the picket line. CNH has not responded to requests for comment as to what capacity either plant has maintained since the strike began.