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UAW solidarity: John Deere union members join CNH Industrial workers at picket line

More than 1,000 members of the United Auto Workers union at Case New Holland Industrial plants in Burlington and Wisconsin have been on strike since May 2.

BURLINGTON, Iowa — It's been over two months since about 430 members of the United Auto Workers union at the Case New Holland Industrial plant in Burlington went on strike.

It marks the largest walkout in Iowa since UAW members working at John Deere went on strike for 35 days last fall.

About 600 UAW members at a CNH plant in Racine, Wisconsin, also went on strike Monday, May 2 in search of a better deal with the agriculture and construction equipment company.

"We're looking for better pay, a path to retirement with dignity, some relief on some of the overtime we've been working, a better benefits package, or at least to maintain our current benefits package, and adjustment on how we do our vacation," said Nick Guernsey, UAW Local 807 President and CNH employee of 12 years. "Year to year, they can change the insurance, it's not a guaranteed benefit. So we're looking for our current PPO plan as a guaranteed benefit, and we would be happy with that."

He added that starting wages for workers at some non-unionized CNH factories are $5.50 per hour higher than those at the Burlington plant. The union is looking to increase wages by at least that much, Guernsey said.

Sunday, July 10 marked day 65 of the strike. John Deere UAW members from the Quad Cities traveled to Burlington on Sunday to join the CNH workers on the picket lines.

"We're here to support them and give them the community support that we had during our strike. And just to show them that they're not alone," said Local 865 President David Thompson. "We want the public to realize that our labor struggle is their struggle as well... We want to see them get a fair contract and be competitive and earn a living and retire with dignity."

Even though CNHi and Deere & Co. are business competitors, both Guernsey and Thompson agreed the UAW members need to show their support for one another.

"We're all UAW together," Guernsey said. "We're all brothers and sisters in the same fight."

Guernsey said contract negotiations are currently at a standstill.

The last time CNH employees went on strike was in May 2004.

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