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CNH Industrial workers still on strike after almost eight months

The workers went on strike in May, demanding better wages, cheaper healthcare and more flexible time off scheduling.

BURLINGTON, Iowa — More than 400 Case New Holland Industrial plant workers are still on strike almost eight months after first walking off the CNH plant in Burlington in May.

On May 2, over a thousand CNH workers in both Iowa and Wisconsin went on strike, demanding better pay, more flexibility in scheduling time off and more affordable healthcare. 

It's now day 230, at the time of writing, and it marks the largest walkout in Iowa since UAW members working at John Deere went on strike for 35 days last fall

So, on Dec. 18., United Auto Workers Union members held a rally, marching from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 708 building in Burlington to the CASE plant.

Some held signs reading, "Stop the attack on workers" while others chanted a variety of slogans such as, "One day longer, One day stronger" and "What do we want? A fair contract. When do we want it? Now!"

Credit: WQAD
CNH Industrial plant workers in Burlington, Iowa protesting on Dec. 18, 2022.

"We are real workers fighting for realistic things right now," CNH worker and UAW 807 member Tracy Chew said. "We deserve it. We deserve it."

Negotiations have stalled over many things like the wage increase, where CNH offered an 18.5% increase over three years, but some union leaders believed it wasn't enough to cover inflation. 

Credit: WQAD
CNH plant workers in Burlington, Iowa pose in front of a sign on Dec. 18.

Chew, who is on both the Bargaining Committee and the Negotiating Team, says workers want a 23% wage increase. But one of most worrisome barriers, according to Chew, is the lack of affordable healthcare.

"The sad part about it is the insurance would completely just exhaust any kind of a pay raise that we would get at this point, if we did go the 23%. So that's a huge concern for us right now. We have to have affordable health care."

And as the winter holidays approach, workers have to not only deal with the possibility of being jobless at the start of the new year, they'll also have to figure out if they want to even work for CNH if a deal were to ever get approved. 

"We want to be treated with dignity and respect," Chew said. "I think that's been a big downfall for the company. It's gonna be difficult going back in there when a company feels a certain way about you. I mean, they've done everything above and beyond the moon, to best us and here we are eight months in."

Despite that lingering thought, she says right now, the focus is on staying strong in their fight and finding a way to make every worker's holiday as normal as possible. 

"Stand strong and trust the process, be patient, know that there are people that are negotiating in their faith, right," Chew said.

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