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John Deere is on strike! Over 10,000 workers across 14 plants have dropped their tools and hit the picket line. After John Deere workers – represented by the United Auto Workers union – refused a contract that the union says did not meet its members’ demands and needs, the team bounced. So what went wrong, and how will John Deere react? And, how will this affect John Deere Tractors?

John Deere Tractor
John Deere | Getty Images

Why are john Deere Workers on strike? 

The problems started in mid-September during union contract negotiations. According to the Washington Post, John Deere’s offer to the UAW members included 5 to 6 percent raises. Still, members are additionally taking advantage of the ongoing nationwide labor shortage to try and regain benefits lost in the 1990s. 

As we continue to see coming across the country struggling to fill jobs for the money and benefits companies are willing to pay, many workers are taking the opportunity to regain some power that has been stripped from workers over the decades. “The cards are in our favor right now … it’s never been lined up this well for us,” said Chris Laursen, a longtime worker at the John Deere plant in Ottumwa, Iowa.

Laursen cited the company’s massive, record profits and the significant pay raise given to chief executive John May. “The labor shortage is in our favor, too,” he said. “Deere can’t hire enough people with the package they’re offering right now.”

how is the John Deere strike going to be resolved? 

JD spokeswoman Jen Hartmann said the company wants to come to a favorable agreement, one 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.”

However, John Deere also brought nonunion workers in to continue the operation. Scabs aren’t a good sign. 

It’s strike season

A truck hauls a piece of John Deere equipment from the factory past workers picketing outside of the John Deere. John Deere Strike:  Workers Strike Over Contract. A truck hauls a piece of John Deere equipment from the factory past workers picketing outside of the John Deere
John Deere Strike Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Deere employees are going hard for multiple reasons. For one, they viewed the initial offer as weak. Aside from the meager raise of 5-6 percent, the new contract also had increased health care costs, an end to the moratorium for plant closures, and an end to overtime pay over eight hours, as noted by The Drive

Second, the union membership is also mad because it appeared their UAW representation wasn’t bargaining as hard as it could be in negotiations. However, John Deere came back with a renegotiated deal addressing the health care cost, added an 11 percent raise plan over six years, and reinstated a cost of living adjustment. 

The workers had a stipulation related to pensions, saying that the current rule that any worker hired after 1997 would only get one-third of the pension of people hired before then had to change. 

The new deal increased post-1997 hire’s pensions, though it took away any possibility of a pension for anybody hired after November 2021. Instead of a pension, these workers would be part of a “cash-balance plan” and be eligible for a 401k. 

This new deal did not work for the Deere employees. So the strike date of October 11th came and went without a more fair deal, and the workers took their power exorcised it by walking out yesterday. 

“I recognize the important economic engine that John Deere is for our Cedar Valley area,” Thompson said, speaking to The Drive. “I also recognize that when a company like John Deere posts quarter after quarter of record gains, those gains are made off the backs of their unionized labor.”


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