Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

John Deere workers on strike

Striking workers picket outside of the John Deere Davenport Works facility on October 15, 2021 in Davenport, Iowa. More than 10,000 John Deere employees, represented by the United Auto Workers (UAW), walked off the job last week after the company failed to provide a fair contract. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Sanders Calls John Deere Threat to Take Away Striking Workers' Health Coverage 'Beyond Outrageous'

"Workers must be allowed to keep their healthcare during the strike," said the Vermont senator.

Julia Conley

Sen. Bernie Sanders was among the labor advocates in Congress on Tuesday who condemned reports that farm equipment manufacturer John Deere plans to force 10,000 striking workers and their families off their health insurance plans next week—a punitive measure to coerce the employees into ending their strike over what they say is an unfair contract.

The Vermont independent senator called the company's plan "beyond outrageous," noting that John Deere's profits have gone up by 67% in the past year, with a net income between $5.7 and $5.9 billion.

"Workers must be allowed to keep their healthcare during the strike," Sanders said.

"Taking healthcare off the bargaining table by making it a right for everyone in America would vastly increase workers' bargaining power and make it easier for workers to stand against vicious union-busting attacks."

Unionized John Deere employees in Iowa, Illinois, and Kansas represented by the United Auto Workers (UAW), went on strike last week over plans to end pensions for newly-hired workers and pay raises amounting to only 5% to 6%, despite the company's skyrocketing profits and a 160% boost in CEO John May's compensation since the coronavirus pandemic began.

The strike is part of what labor advocates have called "Striketober." In recent days, 24,000 nurses and other healthcare workers at Kaiser Permanente have voted to authorize a strike if the company keeps its tow-tiered wages and benefits system, while over 1,400 Kellogg's workers remain on the picket line and local unions nationwide are in various stages of authorizing work stoppages.

Jonah Furman of Labor Notes reported last Friday that striking John Deere workers have learned the company will cut them off from their health insurance plans starting October 27, weeks after Congress allowed COBRA subsidies to expire.

"They could just as easily not do this, but they want to break the strike," Furman said.

At Common Dreams last week, Mark Dudzic, chair of the Labor Campaign for Single-Payer Healthcare, wrote that Striketober and corporations strike-breaking efforts bolster the case for Medicare for All.

"From cereal makers in Michigan to hospital workers in Buffalo, unionized workers are going on strike and rejecting contracts that shift the burden of pandemic recovery onto their backs," wrote Dudzic. "Taking healthcare off the bargaining table by making it a right for everyone in America would vastly increase workers' bargaining power and make it easier for workers to stand against vicious union-busting attacks."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'About Damn Time': NY Jury Finds Trump Organization Guilty on All Counts of Tax Fraud

"Today's guilty verdict against the Trump Organization shows that we will hold individuals and organizations accountable when they violate our laws to line their pockets," said New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Brett Wilkins ·


Oxfam Rebukes EU Over Delayed Deal on Global Minimum Corporate Tax

"This is a loss to ordinary people who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis and a win to the ultra-profitable corporations," said the group's tax expert for the bloc.

Jessica Corbett ·


Global Biodiversity Summit Called 'Make-or-Break Moment' for Wildlife

"The deluded dreams of billionaires aside, there is no Planet B," said U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres. "We must fix the world we have."

Julia Conley ·


Congressional Progressives, Climate Activists Rally Against Manchin's 'Dirty Deal'

"As if spending $847 billion on the military-industrial complex wasn't bad enough," said Rep. Rashida Tlaib, "now they want to add sacrificing frontline communities for polluter profits to the package?"

Brett Wilkins ·


As GOP Threats Continue, Dems Told to 'Raise the Debt Limit Before It's Too Late!'

"Republicans are set on using your earned Social Security benefits as a bargaining chip," said one advocacy group, noting that "Democrats can stop this scheme by raising the debt ceiling before the end of the year."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo