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John Deer tractors

While John Deere executives say they are "determined" to reach a deal, the latest offer was rejected by workers as inadequate. (Photo: Mussi Katz/flickr)

'Some Things Are Worth Fighting For': 10,000 Unionized John Deere Workers Now on Strike

"John Deere is shutting down... because they don't want to pay their workers a fair wage or pension."

Jon Queally

An estimated 10,000 unionized John Deere workers are officially on strike Thursday after a midnight deadline failed to yield an agreement to satisfy the organized workforce of the well-known tractor and farm machine company.

"Our members at John Deere strike for the ability to earn a decent living, retire with dignity and establish fair work rules," said Chuck Browning, vice prresident and director of the UAW’s Agricultural Implement Department, in a statement released just after midnight. "We stay committed to bargaining until our members' goals are achieved."

According to CNN:

The UAW had reached a tentative agreement on a new six-year contact with the company two weeks ago, only to see 90% of the rank-and-file members of the union reject it in a ratification vote that concluded this past Sunday. Union and management negotiators talked into the night Wednesday trying to reach a new deal but were unable to do so.

This is the nation's largest private-sector strike since the UAW waged a costly six-week strike against General Motors (GM) two years ago. And it continues a recent trend of workers flexing more muscle as the dynamics of the labor market tip more toward them and away from employers. Businesses have been struggling to find the workers they need to fill a recent record number of job openings. There has also been a record high number of workers quitting jobs.

UAW president Ray Curry said the union's almost one million retired and active members "stand in solidarity" with the striking John Deere workers and their families.

"UAW John Deere members have worked through the pandemic after the company deemed them essential, to produce the equipment that feeds America, builds America, and powers the American economy," said Curry. "These essential UAW workers are showing us all that through the power of a strong united union voice on the picket line they can make a difference for working families here and throughout the country."

The John Deere strike comes amid a broader surge in union activity, including active strikes already taking place and the approval of future work stoppages by other unions amid tense negotiations with employers.

While executives with the company said they are "determined" to reach a deal, the latest offer was rejected by workers, according to the New York Times, who "criticized the deal for insufficiently increasing wages, for denying a traditional pension to new employees and for failing to substantially improve an incentive program that they consider overly stingy."

With picket lines established at local John Deere locations nationwide, Ron McInroy, director of UAW Region 4, said Thursday that the public show of dissatisfaction shows the company's workers "are organized and ready to hold out and fight for a contract they believe meets their needs."

"Our members and their families appreciate the community support they have already gotten," said Curry. "Strikes are not easy, but some things are worth fighting for."


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