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WFU Urges Case New Holland to Reconsider WI Departure

By Matthew Conte | WFU Rural Organizer

Springtime means planting season in Wisconsin, and as farmers sow seeds across the land, they often put a lot of pride into the paint color on their machines. Since 1842, those Wisconsin farmers behind the wheel of  Case New Holland equipment have felt an extra dose of satisfaction knowing their machinery comes from a Wisconsin-based business. The company has been making agricultural and other large equipment in Racine, Wisconsin, for the entirety of its existence. 

Last year, a nine-month strike resulted in UAW workers at CNH winning a new contract. It included pay raises of 28-38% and increased benefits such as more PTO and vacation time. Farmers also understand and support the need for a fair and living wage because far too often, the contracts they find themselves in also benefit corporations rather than those who do all the work to produce food for our communities. After these wins by the workers, CNH has decided to lay off workers and relocate two production lines to Mexico. The company sites these as part of the "cost-saving measures” that the company insists are necessary. Proposals for alternative cost-saving measures were submitted, but they have been rejected. The company's decision to prioritize cost-savings by de-valuing labor, despite having spent over $650 million on stock buybacks, is causing concern, especially since the savings from the layoffs are estimated at only $135 million. Over 200 workers have already been laid off, and further layoffs are expected in the coming years. “It’s going to hurt the community just as much as it’s going to hurt my membership,” he said. “It doesn’t seem to matter to corporations how much they hurt whoever they hurt, as long as their bottom line is big and fat,” says Richard Glowacki, Chairman of UAW Local 187. These job cuts are also worrying for many farmers who rely on high-quality equipment manufactured in the US and appreciate that it is produced by adequately paid union workers who live, work, shop, and contribute to our local communities. 

CNH’s actions illustrate the ongoing struggles faced by workers and farmers. The relentless pursuit of cost-cutting measures has only worsened these issues, leading to a downward spiral of job loss and economic instability in rural America. This has been the case since the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which was touted to eliminate trade barriers, promote competition between member countries, and enhance the economic opportunities for businesses to expand across borders. However, in reality, NAFTA has led many large corporations to seek greater profits by any means necessary, including utilizing lower-paid workers overseas. The policies in question do not benefit workers in the affected countries. It is morally unjust to deprive people of their livelihoods in one location while failing to provide livable wages to our fellow workers in other countries where these factories are being relocated. Additionally, it is concerning that these workers may receive significantly lower pay for the same work and face inadequate worker protection and workplace safety measures.

 If CNH proceeds with these layoffs, the consequences would extend beyond factory walls. International shipping expenses would skyrocket, burdening farmers with increased costs for essential equipment. The loss of jobs and wages would be devastating to local economies already grappling with stagnant wages and limited employment opportunities. 

What's at stake here is not just about the bottom line—it's about the fundamental values of fairness and solidarity that underpin our society. The harsh reality of the growing divide of wealth inequality in our country, where corporate interests often come before the well-being of workers and communities, shatters the illusion of a fair playing field. As farmers, the members of WFU recognize the importance of standing together in the face of adversity.

The Wisconsin Farmers Union has been building solidarity with working people across the state. This includes initiatives such as our Farmer-Labor Solidarity project, which aims to demonstrate the interconnectedness of issues, shared values, and common goals of farmers and workers across the state. As part of this project, we have launched the Farmer-Labor podcast, which aims to amplify the voices of farmers and workers in rural Wisconsin. Through sharing personal stories and experiences, our goal is to build support for policies that prioritize the needs of workers and farmers over short-term profits and to create a fairer economy that benefits everyone.

We urge CNH to reconsider its shift away from Wisconsin, recognizing the deep ties it has with both workers and farmers in the community. By staying, it not only sustains the livelihoods of factory workers but also upholds the proud tradition of producing quality products made in the USA and ensures reliable access to locally manufactured equipment for Wisconsin’s farmers. 

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