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Senator Bernie Sanders to meet with striking CNH workers at Mt. Pleasant

By on June 14, 2022 0

Senator Bernie Sanders plans to travel to Mount Pleasant on Friday to meet with hundreds of CNH Industrial workers who have been on strike since May 2.

Sanders (D-Vermont) plans to visit United Auto Workers Local 180 for an event at City Hall. It is not known if other elected officials will participate.

After the Mount Pleasant event, Sanders plans to travel to Burlington, Iowa, to speak to CNH Industrial workers who are also on strike.

Health insurance costs and wages are among the issues workers are striking over.

On May 1, the UAW and CNH Industrial agreed to hourly extend the current collective bargaining agreement as the parties attempted to reach a settlement. But a day later, the talks had deteriorated and about 1,000 workers at CNH’s industrial facilities in Racine and Burlington, Iowa, went on strike.

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Last week, Sanders, along with Democratic Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin and other senators, signed a letter sent to CNH Industrial CEO Scott Wine in support of the strikers.

“After speaking with your workers, we understand that your most recent proposal would skyrocket health insurance deductibles for your workers to as high as $6,400 and significantly increase out-of-pocket expenses,” the letter states.

“Beyond unaffordable health benefits, you have refused to offer workers fair compensation for their hard work. Your proposal offers your lowest-paid workers an average annual raise of just $1.33 an hour, which is woefully insufficient and a substantial pay cut for many after adjusting for inflation and the massive new costs of health benefits.

CNH Industrial manufactures agricultural equipment and its portfolio includes Case IH, headquartered in Racine.

“UAW CNHi members have worked during the pandemic after the company deemed them essential, to produce the equipment that feeds America, builds America, and fuels the American economy,” the president said. of the UAW, Ray Curry, in a statement on the first day of the strike.

“They are a strong, united labor voice on the picket line.”

The two sides continued to talk, but on May 24, the UAW released a statement saying the company “entered negotiations with a predetermined negotiation strategy based on the principles of fear and intimidation.”

“After a month of offering little resolution to bargaining issues submitted by UAW members themselves, the UAW has used the authority granted by an overwhelming majority of our members and called a strike against CNH Industrial” , said the UAW.

“The company immediately deployed a strike-breaking workforce which it assembled before the contract deadline in anticipation of a fairly predictable strike given its position at the bargaining table.”

CNH Industrial did not respond to interview requests. In the letter the senators wrote to Wine, he mentioned in 2021 that CNH Industrial “made more than $1.7 billion in profit.”

“If CNH can afford to offer you (Wine) a $9.2 million signing bonus and nearly $22 million in total compensation for a year’s work, that’s nearly 8,000 times the increase that you offer some workers, it can afford to pay all of your workers. better wages and better benefits,” the letter reads. “If CNH can afford to spend more than $100 million in stock buybacks over a six-month period to enrich its wealthy shareholders, it can afford to treat all of its workers with the dignity and respect they deserve. .”

The last time Sanders was in Racine County was in 2018 when he supported Democrat Randy Bryce in his race for the 1st Congressional District seat. Bryce lost to Republican Bryan Steil.

Sanders ran for president in 2016 but lost the Democratic nomination to Hillary Clinton.