10,000 John Deere employees are on strike
A tentative agreement struck between the company and their union, the United Auto Workforce, was rejected by the workers.
At midnight Wednesday evening, over 10,000 workers at agricultural equipment company John Deere went on strike, kicking off one of the greatest work stoppages in recent years in the United States.
Production at 14 plants in Iowa, Illinois, and Kansas will be impacted by the strike.
A tentative agreement struck between Deere and their union, the United Auto Workers, was decisively rejected by the workers. The strike will force both parties to return to the bargaining table in order to reach an agreement.
The UAW reported that members have formed picket lines outside Deere plants.
“Our members at John Deere strike for the ability to earn a decent living, retire with dignity and establish fair work rules,” Chuck Browning, the director of the UAW’s Agricultural Implement Department, said in a statement. “We stay committed to bargaining until our members’ goals are achieved.”
The last time the UAW went on strike against Deere was in 1986.
Deere executives had spent the days running up to the walkout attempting to persuade employees of the benefits of the contract proposal. According to Labor Notes, the agreement would have kept workers’ current health care plan in place, which does not require premiums, but the total pay raise offered was 11 percent over six years, and the contract would have guaranteed new workers received less retirement benefits than current employees.
Many Deere employees hoped to see the end of the “two-tier” structure, which decreased pension and health retirement benefits for those hired after 1997. Instead, the current Deere proposal would build on that arrangement by completely removing defined-benefit pensions for new recruits in the future.
According to Labor Notes, the proposal “doesn’t repair the decades-long grievances that workers hold against Deere.” According to one local union head, “the membership is not in the mood for another concessionary contract.”
In a statement issued on Sunday, UAW Vice President Chuck Browning stated that 90 percent of Deere employees voted against the contract in a ratification vote, sending the union back to the bargaining table to demand more from the firm. Local union affiliates’ Facebook sites were flooded with comments from members who were dissatisfied with both the corporation and the union and appeared eager to strike.
“NO EXTENSIONS!!!!” read one typical comment. “It’s our time to make decent money and have a good contract.”
The current six-year collective bargaining agreement expired on October 1, but the union and Deere agreed to extend it while they continued to negotiate. For nearly 80 years, the UAW has represented the company’s production workers.
Workers expect more because the company has been doing so well, which has been aided by increasing demand for farm equipment. The corporation announced a record $1.79 billion in profits for the second quarter of 2021, breaking the previous quarter’s record of $1.22 billion.
The Deere strike is the latest in a string of big work stoppages in the United States’ private sector, demonstrating how dissatisfied unionised workers are with what their employers are giving. Workers at Frito-Lay, Nabisco, and Kellogg’s all went on strike in order to put pressure on their corporations to provide more.
Meanwhile, 60,000 film and television employees have authorised a strike against the studios, while 21,000 nurses and other health care workers have authorised a walkout against Kaiser Permanente.
The strike deadline has been set for October 18 by the film workers. If they do strike, it will be the greatest private-sector strike in the United States since 2007.