Striking John Deere workers vote against tentative new contract

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The temporary settlement doubles the immediate increment.

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United Auto Workers union members voted on Tuesday against a temporary settlement that would have ended the ongoing strike of more than 10,000 John Deere workers.

According to the UAW, the vote came in 55% against and 45% in favor. This is the second time the union has rejected a tentative contract offer.

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“The strike against John Deere and the company will continue as we discuss next steps with the company,” the UAW said in a statement. “The picket will continue and any updates will be provided through the local association.”

Earlier news of a tentative deal, which would have given a wage increase nearly double than the previously rejected offer that triggered the strike on October 14, has resulted in unique labor market conditions as workers wield new power as the pandemic subsides .

The apparent lack of workers accepting low-wage jobs has left many major companies scrambling to staff and has been linked to strikes that have rocked the private sector in recent weeks. Labor shortages—along with recent record-high rates of people leaving their jobs and record-high job openings according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data—have led to new benefits for workers as they sought better pay or working conditions. want to bargain. ,

The UAW leadership and John Deere announced that a tentative settlement had been reached on Saturday between the union’s elected national bargaining team and officials from the agricultural machinery giant, but workers went on strike ahead of Tuesday’s vote.

The terms of the new agreement would have guaranteed a 10% wage increase for all union employees in the first year of the contract, and 5% each in the third and fifth years of the deal, as well as a 3% lump-sum payment. The second, fourth and fifth years of the deal, according to a contract breakdown document shared by the union with ABC News. In addition, employees would receive a ratification bonus of $8,500.

Retirement benefit options would also have improved and the cost of their health insurance would not have changed.

On October 14, the UAW rejected a contract offer that would have offered a ratification bonus of $3,500 and an immediate increase of 5% to 6%.

UAW President Ray Curry announced the news of the new provisional agreement in a statement, saying, “Our UAW John Deere national bargaining team went back to our local members following the last tentative agreement and publicized the membership’s concerns and priorities. “

“We would like to thank the UAW Bargaining Team and the striking UAW members and their families for the sacrifices they made to receive these benefits,” Curry said. “Our members have enjoyed the support of our communities and the entire labor movement across the country as they have stood together in support and solidarity over the past few weeks.”

Meanwhile, John Deere confirmed in a statement on its website that a second tentative agreement had been reached with the union on a labor contract and that “the UAW will call for a vote on the new provisional agreement.”

Striking John Deere workers have received well wishes and support from lawmakers and the public, as new employee activism during the so-called “Striketober” spurred the post-pandemic labor movement.

A GoFundMe set up to support striking Deere workers has raised more than $135,000 from more than 3,000 donors.

The first strike at John Deere in more than three decades came as the company raked in a record-high $4.68 billion during the first nine months of the 2021 fiscal year, up from a reported $1.993 billion during the same time last year. was more than double.

Meanwhile, John May, president and CEO of John Deere, earned approximately $15.58 million in compensation in fiscal year 2020, according to a Company SEC Filings, That would make the ratio of a CEO’s total compensation to an average employee’s total compensation to roughly 220 to 1, the SEC filing states in 2020.

The recent bout of employee activism, manifested in work stoppages and strikes in recent weeks, comes after the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic, which took an extreme toll on workers deemed “essential,” but decades of growing income inequality in the US. Even after. , experts have said.

“I think workers have reached a critical point,” Tim Schlitner, communications director for the Coalition of Labor Unions AFL-CIO, told ABC News last month, shortly after the Deere strike began. “For too long they have been called essential, but they are considered expendable, and the workers have decided that enough is enough.”

Schlitner said the pandemic also exposed some deeper “imbalances of power in the economy”.

“The pandemic has made it clear what is important and what is not, and workers are looking at work in a new way, demanding a greater return on their labor and basic respect, dignity and safety at work,” he said. demanding things,” he said. “The pandemic has put a demonstration for everyone to see how important workers are to this country, and you can’t call workers essential for 18 months and then fuck with them when they all get back to work. behave like that.”

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