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John Deere strike: workers union rejects wage deal

The UAW had reached an agreement in principle on a six-year new contact with the company two weeks ago, only to see 90% of the union’s base members reject it in a ratification vote that took place. ended last Sunday. Union and employer negotiators met on Wednesday night to try to strike a new deal, but were unable to do so.

It is the largest private sector strike in the country since the UAW carried out a costly six-week strike against General Motors (DG) two years ago. And this is part of the recent trend for workers to be more powerful as labor market dynamics lean more toward them and away from employers. Companies are struggling to find the workers they need to fill a recent record number of job openings. There have also been a record number of workers leaving their jobs.
Last week 1,400 members of the International Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco and Grain Millers Union struck against Kellogg, shutting down factories where grain brands such as Rice Krispies, Raisin Bran, Froot are made. Loops, Corn Flakes and Frosted Flakes.
And earlier on Wednesday, the International Alliance of Theater Workers – which represents technicians, craftspeople and craftsmen in the entertainment industry – announced it had set a strike deadline for Monday morning s ‘they could. not reached a new contract with the Alliance of Film and Television Producers for 60,000 film and television workers. The union said 98.6% of members voted to authorize a strike if there was no new deal by then.

However, the US Department of Labor reports that the number of strikes so far this year is actually down from the same period in 2019, the year before the Covid-19 pandemic pissed off the markets of the United States. job.

Overall wages are on the rise as it appears employers – unionized and non-unionized – are more willing to give workers what they want to keep them on the job.

Good times at Deere

The strike at Deere & Co., the official name of the company popularly known as John Deere, ends operations at 11 factories in Illinois, Iowa and Kansas, and three distribution centers in Georgia, Illinois and Colorado. The company manufactures agricultural and construction equipment. Demand for its products has been strong.

The company said in August that it expects an increase in orders through November 1 and through the first quarter of next year.

The rejected contract for UAW members at John Deere would have given them immediate increases in their base salary from 5% to 6%, and additional salary increases later in the contract that could have raised the average salary d ‘About 20% over the six years of the rejected deal. It also eliminated a lower second tier of pay for some of the company’s more recent hires, leading them to pay other UAW members.

The average production worker at Deere earned around $ 60,000 last year and could end that contract by earning around $ 72,000.

Among the features of the rejected contract was the return of a cost of living adjustment – once a common feature of union contracts that has become rare in recent years. But it could have been lucrative at a time when inflation is reaching levels not seen in decades. It also included benefits enhancements, including an enhanced retirement bonus of up to $ 50,000.

“John Deere is committed to achieving a positive outcome for our employees, our communities and everyone involved,” said Brad Morris, vice president of labor relations at Deere. “We are determined to reach a deal with the UAW that would put every employee in a better economic position and continue to make them the highest paid employees in agriculture and construction. We will continue to work day and night to understand the priorities of our employees. and resolve this strike. “

But unlike the last two UAW contracts at Deere, which were negotiated during tough times for the company, these negotiations came at a particularly good time for the company.

This would perhaps have made it more difficult to conclude an agreement to which membership would be subject. Deere’s current financial success may have led some union members to believe they deserved an even better package than the one that was rejected, especially after less lucrative deals in the past.

“These are skilled and tedious jobs that UAW members take pride in every day,” said Mitchell Smith, UAW Regional Director. “Strikes are never easy for workers or their families, but John Deere workers believe they deserve a better slice of the pie, a safer workplace and adequate benefits.

Revenue for Deere’s first three quarters of fiscal year reached $ 32.7 billion, up 11% from the same period in 2019 before the pandemic. Net income hit a record $ 4.7 billion, up 84% on the same basis. The company was able to do this while facing many supply chain issues plaguing the auto industry, and it was able to increase its profit outlook for the full year to $ 5.9 billion.

The company has also hired in the past year, as jobs represented by unions at Deere have increased by 19% since November 1, 2020.

Actions of Deere (OF) are up 23% year-to-date, although Wednesday’s close was down 16% from the stock level in early September. The stock was little changed in trading Thursday, but is down about 4% since the results of the vote were announced on Sunday night.