Contract talks have once again stalled between tractor and farm machinery manufacturer Case-New Holland (CNH) and the United Auto Workers (UAW). The latest announcement comes after CNH rejected a union counterproposal six months after the UAW rejected the company’s declared final proposal.

At issue is the company's desire to align union worker compensation and health care more closely with the company's many nonunion employees. "Since CNH began discussions with the UAW almost a year ago, we have had one objective in mind: to achieve a contract that is fair and equitable for all parties, enabling us to be competitive in the global marketplace we serve," said CNH chief negotiator Tom Graham. "Our final proposal encompassed the changes needed to begin to bring labor costs at our UAW-represented facilities from double the average cost levels of our other North American manufacturing facilities to an acceptable level."

But John Valko, president of UAW Local 180, said the CNH offer would move workers backward by 40 years on health care, and back to May 1998 on wages. So far, union workers don't appear willing to accept CNH's inflexible terms. That could lead to a long strike and might even end tractor manufacturing in Racine, WI, where Case IH and New Holland tractors are currently made in a newly remodeled facility. Rather than deal with the union, CNH could choose to move its headquarters and manufacturing from Racine to another nonunion location.

In total, approximately 650 of the company’s 10,000 North American employees are represented by the UAW, with nearly all union workers at the two manufacturing locations in Racine and Burlington, IA, where backhoe loaders are made. CNH, which is owned by the Italian company Fiat, operates 41 manufacturing centers worldwide, of which 14 are located in North America.