John Deere was home to approximately 10,000 people. It began the longest U.S. strike in recent memory.
Production at 14 plants in Iowa, Illinois, and Kansas will be affected by the strike.
Workers had rejected the tentative agreement reached between Deere’s union and the United Auto Workers. Both sides will be able to return to the table for a solution after the strike.
UAW members set up picketlines outside Deere plant, according to UAW.
“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.”
Deere was last attacked by the UAW in 2005. 1986
Deere management had been trying to convince workers about the advantages of the contract offer for the past few days. The deal would have kept in place workers’ current health care plan that does not require premiums, but the total pay raise offered was 11% over six years, and the contract would have assured new workers received lesser retirement benefits than current employees, according to Details reported by Labor Notes
Many Deere workers had hoped to eliminate the “two-tier” system established in 1997, which reduced pension and health retirement benefits for those hired thereafter. The latest Deere proposal, however, would extend that system and eliminate defined-benefit retirement plans for all new employees.
“The last time the UAW struck against John Deere was 1986.”
Labor Notes reported that the offer “doesn’t repair the decades-long grievances that workers hold against Deere.” One local union leader told the outlet that “the membership is not at all in the mood for another concessionary contract.”
Brad Morris, Deere’s vice president of labor relations, said in a statement Thursday morning that the company would work “day and night to understand our employees’ priorities and resolve this strike.” He also said the company would “keep our operations running” during the work stoppage.
“We are determined to reach an agreement with the UAW that would put every employee in a better economic position and continue to make them the highest paid employees in the agriculture and construction industries,” he said.
Chuck Browning, Vice President of UAW, stated Sunday that 91% of Deere workers voted against the contract proposal. This sent the union back at the table in an effort to gain more support from Deere. Facebook pages run by the union’s local affiliates filled with comments from members who were frustrated with both the company 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 six-year current collective bargaining arrangement expired October 1, but Deere and union agreed that they would extend the agreement while they negotiate further. Since 1980, the UAW represents production workers in the company.
Because the company is doing well and there has been high demand for agricultural equipment, workers expect to be paid more. Reports from the company indicate that the company has achieved a record $1.79 billion in profitsFor the second quarter 2021, the total exceeded $1.22 trillion.
Deere strikes are just one example of the many major stoppages that hit the U.S. privat sector in recent years. They show how unhappy unionized workers feel with their employers’ offerings. Workers at Frito-Lay, Nabisco and Kellogg’s all went on strike to pressure their companies into offering more.
Some 60,000 TV and film workers authorized strikes against studios while 21,000 nurses, and other healthcare workers, authorized strikes against Kaiser Permanente.
Film workers set Oct. 18 as the strike deadline. They could walk off the job if they do. It will be the largest strike in private industry since 2007.
John Deere provided a statement to update this story.