UAW members in Burlington seeking better hours, benefits and pay
BURLINGTON, Iowa (KWQC) - United Auto Workers at Case New Holland Industrial plants in Burlington, Iowa, and Racine, Wisconsin entered their first full day on strike on Tuesday.
About 440 UAW Local 807 members in Burlington went on strike Monday at noon. Both union leaders and members on the picket line said they are looking for better hours, vacation policies and a livable wage.
“We’re building heavy equipment, that is the lifeblood of America,” Local president Nick Guernsey said. “We kind of feel that, maybe we’re being shorted a little bit.”
Workers feel they’re being overworked with 12-hour days and are coming in on their days off.
“We want our membership to be able to have some time off away from work, enjoy their families [and] enjoy the liberties that are afforded to us in this country,” Guernsey said. “You can’t do that when you’re living in a plant, you know, almost 24/7.″
Negotiations went past the initial deadline of Sunday at midnight with hour-by-hour extensions leading to the first strike for Local 807 since December 2004. Leadership did not feel the company was willing to compromise.
According to Guernsey, replacement workers were already in place.
“We’re here trying to negotiate a contract, and [the company is coming] up with code names for a bus route,” Guernsey said. “I don’t know if the company was serious about getting us a contract resolve or if they were just stall tactics.”
With morale currently high, union members are hoping to take advantage of the better weather that spring and summer could bring.
“Right now we hit an iceberg and we’re willing to take it to the bottom,” Guernsey said. “I mean, we’ll ride it down, like the Titanic, if it comes to it. We’re going to take this fight as far as the membership wants to go.”
Guernsey wished it didn’t get to this point, he said there are no winners in a strike.
“I feel the company did a great disservice to the community, to ... my membership, their salaried employee and other businesses that survive off Case that supply us with parts that drive in and out.”
Union leaders do not know when negotiations will resume. Insurance benefits for members on strike are set to expire on May 15.
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