Striking members of United Auto Workers Local 180 and their supporters are building a “Solidarity Day” for Dec. 17 to press their contract fight against the bosses at Case New Holland. “It’s being broadcast in a lot of places,” Yasin Mahdi, president of Local 180, told the Militant Nov. 23. “People will be bringing presents for strikers’ kids and other donations. We’ll meet at the union hall at 2 p.m.” followed by expanded picketing.
Six hundred UAW members at the Case New Holland plant near Racine, Wisconsin, walked out May 2, along with 430 members of UAW Local 807 at the heavy equipment manufacturer’s plant in Burlington, Iowa. They are fighting for raises that keep up with inflation, against massive mandatory overtime, and against company demands to increase the cost of their medical insurance.
Mahdi said that the last negotiations were in late September and “there was no real movement” from what the company called its “last, best, final offer.”
“My biggest problem was the mandatory 12-hour shifts,” striking tool and die maker Tony Marnell told the Militant by phone. He said strikers are keeping up the picket line daily 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. As the weather gets colder, they’ve cut the picket shifts from six hours to four, and set up a tent with a heater where strikers can warm up.
The company is running some production with replacement workers and a few union members who’ve crossed the line. “They’re now bringing in the workers in vans at the gate by the guard shack,“ Marnell said. “It seems like the company turned down the lights in that area. With it getting dark earlier, I’m picketing with a flashlight, to make sure we’re visible on the picket line.”
The strikers continue to win support in the community and beyond. Other unions and individuals stop by the union hall and picket line to bring donations of food and other items.
“I don’t think most people thought it would last over six months,” Marnell said. “The people who’ve been at it for this long are in it for the long haul. We want to get back to work, but with a fair contract.”
Contributions, messages of support and checks can be dropped off or mailed to the Local 180 union hall at 3323 Kearney Ave., Mt. Pleasant, WI 53403, and to Local 807 at 9313 Koestner St., Burlington, IA 52601.