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Backlash for tractor maker that is moving jobs to Mexico
 
By Stan Maddux
Indiana Correspondent

RACINE, Wis. – A longtime maker of farm machinery is receiving a hostile response from state and federal lawmakers for laying off workers and moving those jobs to Mexico despite record profits.
CNH Industrial in April handed pink slips to about 200 workers at its plant in Racine to move more of its production to Mexico to reduce labor costs. More layoffs could follow a corporate restructuring that calls for a 10-15 percent reduction in workforce expenses.
The plant, with over 600 employees prior to the layoffs, could have fewer than 200 remaining workers by 2026.
In a written statement, the company said the move was in response to the current economic situation and economic forecast.
In response, U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) called for the $150 million cost cutting decision to be reversed in a scathing letter to Scott Wine, CEO of CNH Industrial based in London, England.
“While claiming they need to save money, in its last financial year the company has earned record profits, compensated its executives handsomely and engaged in stock buybacks to enrich wealthy insiders,” she said.
Baldwin said the company purchased $652 million in stock buybacks last year or four times the amount it hopes to save from workforce reductions.
The Racine plant makes CASE IH and New Holland large two-wheel drive and front-wheel-assist farm tractors with 180 to 380 horsepower engines.
The facility also assembles drive line components used in CNH Industrial combines, large four-wheel-drive agricultural equipment along with cotton picker equipment, according to the website of the United Auto Workers Local 180, which represents the workers in Racine.
Hydraulic valves made at the plant are also shipped worldwide for use in agriculture and construction equipment.
In an earnings report for 2023 released in February, CNH listed a net income of more than $2.3 billion, which Wine described in the report as a company record for “full year revenue and net income.”
Baldwin said, “Despite delivering record profits for your company, your workers in Racine are being told their services are too expensive and are no longer welcome. An average worker at your Racine plant earns $52,000 annually. Last year, you made nearly 350 times that, $18 million. In 2022, you made $22 million, and in 2021, you made $44 million.”
She also pointed out in her letter that Case-New Holland farm machinery has been made in Racine for over 175 years.
“Moving production to Mexico as you are considering would not only be a slap in the face to the workers who have given so much, it would destroy the institutional knowledge that your workforce has developed over decades of building agricultural equipment,” she said.
Baldwin also believes the company is turning its back on America considering four U.S. Defense contracts worth a combined $1 million were recently awarded to CNH.
“As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, it is always my expectation that when we spend taxpayer dollars, we should be investing those dollars in American workers,” she said.
Baldwin also raised concerns the layoffs might be an act of revenge by the company against workers who went on strike for about nine months until a new contract – including wage increases and other benefits – was reached in January 2023.
“Abandon plans to move production to Mexico and make clear to the workers in Wisconsin that you are committed to manufacturing the best agricultural equipment in the world in the city where it all started – Racine Wisconsin,” she said.
Rich Glowacki, a member of the UAW 180 bargaining committee, said the union is talking to company representatives to try to get them to change their position.
Right now, though, Glowacki said the company wants major concessions from workers.
“They’re trying to compare us with a country that doesn’t really pay their workers very well and expect us to go to those types of wages, which isn’t happening,” he said.

5/14/2024