About 10,000 workers at farm equipment maker John Deere went on strike at midnight Wednesday night, triggering one of the biggest work stoppages in the United States in recent years.
The strike will affect production at 14 facilities in Iowa, Illinois and Kansas.
The workers overwhelmingly rejected a tentative deal negotiated between Deere and their union, the United Auto Workers. The strike will send both parties back to the bargaining table to find a solution.
The UAW said members had set up picket lines outside Deere factories.
“Our John Deere members are on strike so they can earn a decent living, retire with dignity and establish a level playing field,” Chuck Browning, director of the UAW’s agricultural tools department, said in a statement. “We remain committed to negotiating until our members’ goals are met.
The last time the UAW hit Deere was in 1986.
Deere managers had spent the days leading up to the strike trying to sell workers the benefits of the proposed contract. The deal would have kept in place the current workers’ health care plan that does not require bonuses, but the total wage increase offered was 11% over six years, and the contract would have ensured new workers receive benefits. lower retirement benefits than current employees, based on details reported by Labor Notes.
Many Deere workers had hoped to eliminate the “two-tier” system established in 1997, which reduced retirement and retirement benefits for those hired afterwards. Instead, Deere’s latest proposal would expand that system by completely eliminating defined benefit pensions for new hires in the future.
“The last time the UAW hit John Deere was in 1986.”
Reported work notes that the offer “does not remedy the decades-long grievances workers have against Deere.” A local union leader told the media outlet that “members are in no mood at all to make another concession contract.”
UAW Vice President Chuck Browning said in a statement on Sunday that 90% of Deere workers disapproved of the contract in a ratification vote, sending the union back to the table to get more from the company . Facebook pages run by local union affiliates were filled with comments from members who were frustrated with both the company and the union and seemed eager to strike.
“NO EXTENSION !!!!” read a typical comment. “It’s time for us to make some decent money and get a good contract.
The current six-year collective agreement expired on October 1, but the union and Deere agreed to extend it while they negotiated more. The UAW has represented the company’s production workers for nearly 80 years.
Workers wait longer in part because the company is doing so well, driven by strong demand for farm equipment. The company reported a record $ 1.79 billion in profits for the second quarter of 2021, surpassing the record set in the previous quarter with $ 1.22 billion.
The Deere strike is part of a series of major work stoppages that have recently hit the U.S. private sector, reflecting how unhappy union workers are with what their employers are offering. Workers at Frito-Lay, Nabisco and Kellogg’s have all gone on strike to pressure their companies to offer more.
Meanwhile, some 60,000 film and television workers have authorized a strike against the studios, while another 21,000 nurses and other healthcare workers have authorized one against Kaiser Permanente.
Cinema workers have set a strike deadline of October 18. If they do end up resigning, it would be the biggest private sector strike in the United States since 2007.