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‘Enough with the intimidation’ – InsuranceNewsNet

MOUNT PLEASANT – It’s been a rough 47 days for 680 union employees at CNH Industrial in Racine who have been on strike since May 2.

The workers are protesting an increase in health care costs, lack of compensation to make up for the increases and a reduction in retirement benefits.

On May 13employees on strike had their health insurance coverage taken away by CNH Industrial and will likely not have coverage while on strike.

The national United Auto Workers union, of which the workers are members, is pitching in $400 per week per employee to help make up the costs.

“We’re running a food pantry down in the basement, so every Friday when everybody comes get their checks, we have a food pantry going for them downstairs,” said Gary Mercila machinist who’s worked for CNH Industrial for 15 years.

On Friday, the striking workers got a “boost in the arm” from US Sen. Bernie SanderI-Vt., who came to UAW Local 180 in Mount Pleasant to rally with workers.

“What you are doing is sending a message to working families all over this country,” Sanders said. “You are sick and tired of corporate greed and you want to be treated with dignity and respect.”

Sanders railed against the difference in pay between the top CNH Industrial executive and his workers.

“If CNH can afford to provide its CEO Scott Wine with a $9.2 million signing bonus — this guy’s not even a basketball player or baseball player — and nearly $22 million in compensation for one year, which is about 8,000 times the raise that’s being offered to some workers, surely they can afford to pay their workers decent wages,” Sanders said.

CNH Industrial manufactures farm equipment and its portfolio includes Case IH, which is headquartered in Racine.

Sanders praised the workers and encouraged CNH Industrial to come to the negotiating table.

“Today we say to the CEO of CNH, enough with the intimidation, enough with the coercion, enough with the lies, enough with the greed, enough is enough,” Sanders said. “Now is the time for CNH to sit down at the negotiating table and start negotiating in good faith with the UAW.”

State Assembly Minority Leader greta neubauerD-Racine, whose district represents parts of CNH Industrialsaid having Sanders speak to the workers is “significant.”

“Bernie has long been a supporter of labor and, of course, working people, and he recognizes that the union’s ability to fight for better working conditions at unionized facilities means for better conditions for everyone,” Neubauer said. “We all know that the costs are rising, families are struggling right now, and wages need to rise as well.”

Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barneswho is running in the Democratic primary to challenge Republican Sen. Ron Johnsonsaid he would be interested in legislation that narrows the pay gap between CEOs and average workers.

“I think it’s important that hard work be rewarded, and I think it’s also important that large companies pay their fair share and, of course, Congress does have an ability to hold employers accountable,” Barnes said.

yasin mahdi is serving in his first term as president of UAW Local 180 and has worked at CNH Industrial for 13 years.

“They had the scabs in (the facility) within hours after we declared the strike,” Mahdi said.

Scabs refers to non-union employees who were brought in to work as replacements for the workers on strike.

“We walked out at noon, by 1 o’clock they had workers already coming in vans,” Mercil said. “They’re trying to break our union.”

Aside from the issues of pay and benefits, workers say the company wants to shorten the contract length from six years to three years.

“It seems like CNH likes to waste UAW’s time with negotiating,” Mahdi said.

“We started negotiating in April, the first week of April. It don’t take that long to come to an agreement. They know what they need to do. They’re not even comparable to area employers on wages, benefits or vacations. “

Some workers have picked up or are considering getting another job while on strike.

“The company is playing a dangerous game where people might go find a different job and they may like it better there and (CNH Industrial) may lose an employee that’s very valuable to them with their skill set and knowledge about how to assemble that product in the plant,” Mahdi said. “It’s all on the company.”

While the speech from Sanders may have reinvigorated the workers, Mahdi knows there is a long road ahead before a deal is made.

“I anticipate the company locking us out,” Mahdi said. “I anticipate the company upping the ante and bargaining with my members individually versus going through the elected officials that the membership elected to represent them.”

Mahdi said they might start approaching the dealers and farmers that buy the equipment to inform them of their situation.

Attempts to reach CNH Industrial for comment were not successful.

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