MOUNT PLEASANT, Wis. — Some 200 United Auto Workers Local 180 members and their supporters rallied in subfreezing weather here Dec. 17 to build support for their strike against the bosses at Case New Holland.
The 600 Case workers at the nearby Sturtevant plant, which makes tractors and farm equipment, have been on strike since May 1, alongside 430 UAW Local 807 members at the company’s plant in Burlington, Iowa. They held a rally the next day.
“The rally is awesome,” Dave Pederson, a valve machinist at the Wisconsin plant, told the Militant, pointing to donations by strike supporters. Bags of children’s toys, food items, gift cards and hand and foot warmers filled the basement of the union hall here. Workers are fighting for “wage increases that keep up with inflation and affordable health benefits,” he said.
Members of the United Food and Commercial Workers, International Association of Machinists, other UAW locals, and community organizations joined the action. “We want to show the company we are still strong,” UAW Local 180 member Corey Gray said. “The company has been lying to the public about our demands.”
A few union members have crossed the picket line, but “the majority are willing to hold out,” said Robert Starks. “The company is losing business.” It’s running some production with scabs and management employees. “This fight is not just for us,” said Jeff Varsh, a retiree and former Local 180 president. “It affects the community.”
“We won’t go back without a good contract,” Nick Guernsey, president of UAW Local 807 in Iowa, told the strikers and supporters. Also speaking were Stephanie Bloomingdale, president of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO, and Christine Neumann-Ortiz from Voces de la Frontera, a pro-labor immigrant rights organization.
“We stand in solidarity with you,” said a statement from Family Farm Defenders read to the rally. “Working together, we both can win.”
After the rally, demonstrators piled into cars and trucks to caravan the few miles to the plant and join pickets there. Large signs mounted on top of the cars included “Solidarity with UAW Strike” and “Railroad Workers Support UAW Strike.”
Contributions, messages of support and checks can be dropped off or mailed to UAW Local 180, 3323 Kearney Ave, Mount Pleasant, WI 53403 and to UAW Local 807 at 9313 Koestner St., Burlington, IA 52601.