BY TOM MAILER
EAST MOLINE, Illinois - On May 14 members of United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 1304 at Case Corp. in East Moline will take a "re-ratification" vote on a contract that was rejected April 30. Some 3,300 workers at five Case plants throughout the Midwest have been working without a contract since March 29. Case is an international manufacturer of farm and construction equipment.
The 1,200 members of Local 1304 are the only ones being made to vote a second time. The results of this vote will be added to the votes of the four other locals from the original ratification election. This was the only local that voted the offer down, because of strong opposition to the deepening of the two-tier wage setup. The proposal increases the time required for new hires to reach pay equity with current employees from three years to five years. It also would eliminate health-care benefits for new hires when they retire.
Gil Gibson, a member of the bargaining committee, explained that there were only minor changes in local issues from the contract voted on previously.
Workers were outraged by this turn of events. "The UAW International is shoving this down our throats," said William Baker, a machine operator at Case." They are making just our local vote, because we're the bad boys," that rejected the agreement.
Some workers were resigned to the situation. "What can we do? The other locals didn't support us in this fight for equality," of new and current employees, said one Local 1304 member.
Others have a different view. Baker said he expects many workers to vote no again. Another union member proudly stated that "We stood up for our rights. At Deere they didn't put up a fight." UAW members at John Deere accepted a deeper two-tier contract recently where new hires never reach the same wages of the current employees.
"But I'm a fighter," he declared. "Our forces will regroup and we'll have our chance. I don't give a damn what it takes."
Ray Parsons, a member of United Steelworkers of America
Local 310 in Des Moines, contributed to this article.
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home