Senators urge CNH Industrial to offer more to strikers | Health, Medicine and Fitness

By JOSH FUNK – AP Business Writer

A group of U.S. senators led by Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders is supporting workers at two CNH Industrial plants who have been on strike for more than a month for better wages and benefits.

The group, which also includes former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren and three other Democrats, wrote a letter to CNH CEO Scott Wine urging him to give the more than 1,000 striking workers a better deal. Sanders plans to attend rallies with the strikers next week.

The group said workers at factories that make construction and agricultural equipment shouldn’t have to accept the dramatically higher healthcare costs and modest increases the company is now offering, especially when the company has declared a profit of $336 million in the first quarter.

The senators said the lowest-paid workers at the Racine, Wisconsin and Burlington, Iowa plants would receive raises of $1.33 an hour, which they say would not cover the health insurance deductible of $6,400 proposed by CNH Industrial.

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“If CNH can afford to offer you a $9.2 million signing bonus and almost $22 million in total compensation for a year’s work – nearly 8,000 times the raise you’re offering some workers – it can afford to pay all of your workers better wages and benefits,” the senators wrote to Wine. “If CNH can afford to spend more than $100 million on stock buybacks over a period six months to enrich its wealthy shareholders, it can afford to treat all of its workers with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

Officials at the UK-based company did not respond to questions about the strike on Wednesday, but previously said they were committed to resolving the contract dispute through the bargaining process. CNH Industrial has more than 37,000 employees in total.

Sanders, who has worked with unions across the country over the past year to support workers in a series of high-profile strikes, plans to travel to Wisconsin and Iowa on June 17 to attend town hall rallies with striking CNH workers. Sanders previously unsuccessfully urged Warren Buffett to intervene in a strike at one of the companies his conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway owns. He also rallied with striking workers at the Kellogg grain plant last year before they agreed to a new contract.

About 10,000 UAW members who work for Deere & Co. won 10% raises and improved benefits after going on strike for a month last fall. So far, CNH workers have not been able to achieve similar results. The continued shortage of workers has prompted many unions to push for better wages and benefits after keeping factories operating throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

The letter was also signed by the senses. Richard Blumenthal, Sherrod Brown and Tammy Baldwin.

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