STURTEVANT, Wis. — “Case is in trouble, and they know it,” said Anthony Ford, one of 1,100 workers, members of United Auto Workers Locals 180 and 807, who struck the agricultural implement giant here and in Burlington, Iowa, May 2.
“They’ve only produced 52 tractors in two months here since we went on strike. We used to turn out that many in one week,” he said. “They can’t come close to meeting customers’ demands.”
Case New Holland, whose brands include Case IH and New Holland, is the second-biggest farm equipment manufacturer in the U.S. based on sales, behind Deere and Company. In 2021 the company sold about $18 billion worth of tractors, excavators and other farm and construction equipment worldwide.
Before the strike began the company was struggling to obtain semiconductors and other key components in short supply during the past 18 months. New equipment fresh off assembly lines couldn’t be completed for lack of parts.
“The strike has made it worse,” Rod Bierle, manager at Bancroft Implement, a Case IH dealer in Iowa, told the Wall Street Journal. “They need to settle the strike. We’re waiting for tractors.”
“This is my second contract fight but my first strike,” picket captain Brian Schneider, a relief worker, told the Militant.
“We’re all fighting for the same things — a decent increase in pay to keep up with inflation, rational schedules so we can have time with our families and putting into workers’ hands the decision on when to take our vacation,” he said.
“There are other important things at stake, for example, safety. Lots of people get hurt on the job. When people come back from being off with a work-related injury it’s common for management to put them right back on the job that hurt them in the first place,” he said. “That shows their attitude toward our well-being and safety.”
Schneider recounted an incident where a transmission fell off the line and almost crushed a worker. “She was shaken up and couldn’t be found for a while. Probably just went to sit down somewhere and get it together before going back to work.
“Management didn’t care what happened to her,” he said. “All they were interested in was getting that transmission off the floor and getting work going.”
Laurie Ringham, a subassembly builder with over 15 years at the plant, pointed to the company’s disregard for safety. “Whenever somebody has to be off work for an injury their first instinct is to say, ‘It didn’t happen here.’ When you’re constantly torquing bolts at 200-foot pounds and you injure a shoulder, how in the world did it not happen here?
“My biggest concern is medical insurance,” she said. “The wage increase they have proposed does not cover increased premiums, not to mention copays. The end result is a wage cut.”
Both locals have been receiving solidarity and donations from surrounding communities and the labor movement.
Contributions can be dropped off and messages and checks mailed to the UAW Local 180 union hall, 3323 Kearney Ave., Mount Pleasant, WI 53403. Messages can also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Contributions and messages can go to UAW Local 807, 9313 Koestner St., Burlington, IA 52601. Messages can also be sent to email@example.com.