HomeNewsWhy 10,000 John Deere Employees Are About to Go on Strike

Why 10,000 John Deere Employees Are About to Go on Strike

by Lauren Boisvert
(Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)

About 10,000 John Deere employees have voted whether or not to strike at ten different facilities across the United States. PayDay Report writes that the largest UAW union of John Deere workers, the UAW Local 838 from Waterloo, Iowa, “voted to strike by a margin of 99.3%.”

According to PayDay Report, John Deere is “demanding that workers, who currently pay no health care premiums, pay 20% of the healthcare premiums. In addition, John Deere is asking for an end to overtime pay if they are asked to work more than eight hours in a day.”

Is the UAW Planning to Sell Out Workers?

WSWS.org reports that the UAW is leading John Deere workers down a path to eventual defeat; they claim that the union is trying to “soften the blow by putting out the worst possible contract first and working their way backwards.” This means, any small gain in the contract will look like a huge win in comparison.

According to WSWS, UAW Vice President Terry Dittes is in charge of the negotiations; the same man who was the “architect of the betrayal of the 40-day General Motors strike in 2019.” His deal “allowed GM to increase its low-paid temporary workforce and close three factories.”

Apparently, the UAW shared no information with workers until Sunday. As told by a John Deere worker, “They didn’t give it out. They just read it out loud. Zero transparency and zero trust by me. They had a copy posted but wouldn’t let anyone take pictures.”

Crucially, WSWS laid out what workers should demand in their strike. They should ask for “an end to the two-tier system, with all workers brought up to top pay and benefits. A 30 percent across-the-board pay increase to make up for the years of wage freezes and stagnation. An annual cost-of-living escalator clause to keep up with spiking inflation” and “Fully paid health care benefits for current workers and retirees, with no co-pays or premiums.”

What is a Strike?

A strike is a “work stoppage, caused by the mass refusal of employees to work”, usually taking place in response to “employee grievances” or unfair treatment by the company. Mostly, labor unions use strikes as a last resort in negotiations; “wages, benefits, and working conditions” are agreed on by the union and employer. Strikes picked up during the Industrial Revolution; in the late 19th and 20th centuries, striking was made partially legal in some Western regions.

The frequency of strikes decreased from 1973 to 2017, but picked up again in 2018 and 2019 in the United States. Additionally, laws prohibit some groups from striking, such as teachers, police, and firefighters. These workers sometimes organize “sickouts” instead; claiming the inability to work due to illness as a way to protest unfair conditions.