John Deere Workers Remain on Strike and Reject Two-Tier Pay

D.avenport, Iowa—In October the United Auto Workers and the Iowa labor movement were on the rise.

Community support and the sympathetic media stood firm behind the 10,100 striking employees of John Deere and Company. Workers at America’s largest agricultural machinery manufacturer were rightly offended by Deere’s first contract offer, which included a 5 percent pay rise after a year of record profits. They were considered important workers, but apparently none were as important as Deere’s CEO John May, who made $ 15.6 million in 2020.a 160 percent increase.

Dozens of companies contributed discounted meals, drinks, haircuts, chiropractic services, fishing gear, and even a free session at Davenport Ax Throwing. The North Liberty Retail and Department Store Union donated £ 8,000 of groceries. Bob Dixon, Vice President of RWDSU Local 110, said, “It’s about corporate greed…. People have to come together as members and as employees to fight against it. “

Iowa Senate Democratic Chairman Zach Wahls and other Democratic MPs made strong statements of support, as did Iowa’s Federation of Labor, the Teamsters, the Iowa Farmers Unionand Senator Bernie Sanders. Secretary of Agriculture – and former Iowa Governor – Tom Vilsack visited a picket line in Ankeny. “You deserve a fair price and a fair deal,” Vilsack told the workers. He thanked them for supporting his 1998 gubernatorial campaign: “The UAW has been with me from the start. You don’t forget the people who were with you. ”

Election day in Iowa was also the day UAW members voted on a renegotiated contract after overwhelmingly rejecting a tentative deal on October 10. The second agreement between Deere and UAW executives would give workers an immediate 10 percent increase and two additional increases of 5 percent under a six-year contract. Workers would receive a bonus of $ 8,500 upon ratification of the treaty. Deere also made some concessions in health care and retirement, but the two-tier pay system remained with the so-called “extra workers” paid significantly less than their counterparts doing the same jobs.

Many union members, worried about their paychecks with the upcoming holidays, believe it is time to declare victory and get back to work. The majority disagree and voted against the second agreement with around 55 to 45 percent. Some say the rejection reflects continued dissatisfaction with their own leaders. Others blame the uncertainty about the company’s continuous improvement pay plan, which is based on a complex incentive system. Many point out that despite their loyalty and hard work, Deere’s management does not respect them during the Covid pandemic.

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