BURLINGTON, Iowa — A day after the United Autor Workers union and CNH Industrial agreed to terms on a new contract, ending a strike lasting almost 9 months, News 8 now has some details about the specifics of the agreement and how it was voted on.
In a Zoom interview on Jan. 22, News 8's Collin Riviello spoke to longtime CNH Industrial worker and UAW bargaining team member, Tracey Chew, who shared details about the contract.
According to Chew, UAW received CNH Industrial's offer at 2:15 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21 and members from both the Burlington, Iowa plant and the Racine, Wisconsin plants soon voted on it.
"We had a meeting with the legal department from Detroit," Chew said. "They came down and gave us the very long and short of it and told us what our options were [and] informed the membership of everything that could possibly go wrong. [After], we had a good question-and-answer forum. And then once legal was finished with their presentation, then we allowed to vote and we voted up until 6:00 p.m."
According to Chew, 62.4% of voters voted "Yes" to CNH Industrial's improved final offer and 37.6% of voters voted "No". While the company's offer included most of the things the workers were asking for, notably absent was cheaper health care.
But what Chew thinks motivated a good number of members to approve the offer was CNH Industrial saying it would hire "permanent replacement workers" starting Jan. 23.
"I think the key words that I heard, and a lot of members heard were permanent replacement workers. And that put a fear in our workers because that hasn't been an option that we've discussed in the past. We always knew that it was there. But it just became a reality the company hadn't utilized prior to this."
Despite that, Chew says she's happy the strike is finally over.
"Oh, my gosh, we are ecstatic. It's like, we've got 1,000 pounds lifted off our shoulders. The membership is very overwhelmed at this point, super excited."
Chew revealed that the contract begins on January 30, 2023 and runs until sometime in early May 2026.
Below is a list of notable changes between the old contract and the new contract according to Chew.
- Pay raises: Some departments are getting pay raises between 28%-to 38%. Chew, who works in the Tractor-Loader-Backhoe Assembly line made $20.93 before the strike began on May 2, 2022. Under the new contract, she will make $23.77 starting Jan. 30, 2023 and that will increase to $25.08 in May of 2023. Her pay will go up once again in March of 2026 to $27.67.
- Bonus vacation time: A worker will now only need to wait 12 years for on additional week of bonus vacation time. Before workers would need to be with the company for 15 years to automatically get an extra week. Chew says it usually takes about five years of working with the company to be given two-weeks off automatically.
- PAA increases: Workers now have 40 hours of Paid Absence Allowance, up from 32 hours.
- Increased PTO flexibility: Workers can now call in to take vacation time 15 minutes before the start of their shift, instead of 30 minutes before their shift.
- Ratification bonus: The ratification bonus will be given out after 30 calendar days instead of 60 calendar days.
- Boot & Shoe Allowance: Completely new in this new contract, workers will now be reimbursed up to $125 for boots/shoes for work.
"In the meeting, it was announced that CASE does want all of us to return," Chew said. "So you know, that was a good thing. They know that we're the skilled labor and they know that we mean business. And they know that we own those jobs. And so we're anxious to get America building again, we really are."
Chew said it's a relief to know she'll be able to go back to working at the job she's worked for a decade.
"We're stronger together, and we are going to go back in there and we're going to do just what we're doing. We're gonna go back in there and build a good quality product, and we're going to start making some good money."
But not every worker who started the strike finished. Chew says one of her long-time co-workers, Randy Huett, passed away shortly after the strike began due to heart problems.
"I know this is a really proud moment for his family, and I know Randy's looking down on us," Chew said. "You know, we won. We won a better life for ourselves. And now we know our worth, and I hope that the company is fully aware of our worth as well."
The CNH strike was one of the longest ones in the recent spate of strikes since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Workers at a variety of companies have been demanding and getting significant raises and better benefits amid widespread worker shortages. New unions have been established at Starbucks stores and Amazon warehouses, although some locations have rejected them.
More than 10,000 Deere & Co. workers secured 10% raises and improved benefits after their monthlong strike in 2021 at another agricultural equipment maker.
In one of the highest-profile labor disputes of the past year, more than 100,000 railroad workers received 24% raises and $5,000 in bonuses in a five-year deal after Congress stepped in and blocked a potential strike because of fears about the economic consequences. Even with the big raises, many rail workers remain frustrated with the deal that was imposed on them because it didn't resolve their quality-of-life concerns about demanding schedules and the lack of paid sick time.
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