Earlier this month, a group of North Dakota farmers filed a class action lawsuit claiming that John Deere is illegally monopolizing agricultural equipment repair. The lawsuit alleges that Deere’s implementation of computerized engine control units and refusal to provide farmers and independent mechanics with needed software repair tools have forced farmers to pay millions more for service than they would have in a competitive market. A report from the US Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG) titled Deere in the Headlights demonstrated how these software tools are necessary to fix modern tractors. The lawsuit against Deere reflects a burgeoning Right to Repair movement.
A month into the nation’s largest work stoppage, striking John Deere workers are holding out for a better deal. For the second time in a month, 10,000 Auto Workers at John Deere stunned both the company and the union leadership November 2 by rejecting a tentative agreement. Workers at the farm equipment manufacturer remain on strike. Company and union negotiators are set to meet today for the first time since the deal was voted down. The vote was closer than on the first tentative agreement, which was rejected by 90 percent of members. This time, 55 percent voted no. It came as a shock to many analysts, given the concessions workers had been able to wring out of Deere during their first two weeks on strike.
It’s going to be a very good year for the top dogs and shareholders at Deere & Co. The Iowa-based equipment manufacturer says it earned more in the first nine months of its fiscal year than during its best year in 2013. The corporation’s third-quarter results are nearly $4.7 billion. John May, the company’s CEO, made over $14.7 million in total compensation in 2020. Reports are that his salary increased 160 percent during the pandemic while laid-off manufacturing workers saw “incentive” pay cut. On October 14, 10,000 unionized skilled manufacturing employees at Deere & Co. initiated their right to bargain by rejecting the contract put forth by management and going on strike. Does it surprise anyone that skilled workers went on strike after the company agreed to bump pay by little more than $1 per hour over the next 6 years?
Striking John Deere employees rejected a second contract offer on Tuesday. After decades of austerity contracts with cuts to pensions, healthcare, and wages, workers at the farm equipment manufacturer — members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) — are standing up and demanding more, just as the t-shirts they’ve been wearing on the picket lines put it: “Deemed essential in 2020. Prove it in 2021.” This strike is proving it. UAW members across Illinois, Iowa, and Kansas voted down the tentative agreement, 55 percent to 45 percent. This is a much closer vote margin than when 90 percent of union members voted down the previous contract offer in early October, which set the stage for the strike that began on October 14.
Iowa - A judge has sided with striking John Deere employees in a case over whether their protesting tactics were permissible at a site in Des Moines. District Court Judge Paul Scott ruled on Tuesday to deny Deer & Co.’s request for an injunction that would limit the United Auto Workers (UAW) members' labor action against the company, The Des Moines Register reported. Scott said the company was unable to prove the protesters were engaging in unlawful activity despite the videos it presented. “The video evidence ... shows vehicles have been slowed down by picketers in crosswalks; it fails to prove illegal conduct has occurred," Scott wrote in his opinion. "Deere presumably has accumulated hours of video evidence at picket lines, possibly for the entirety of the Union’s demonstrations at these gates, and the videos are void of illegal conduct on the part of the Union.”
Ten thousand John Deere workers went on strike today. Sixty thousand IATSE members may be on strike by Monday. They will join the thousands of nurses, miners, hospital workers, factory workers, and others already on strike across America. Here we are, in our long-awaited strike wave. What does this thrilling development tell the labor movement about what its future direction should be? Nothing. Let me phrase that in a more positive way: The current wave of aggressive strike actions across the country is one of the most politically inspiring things that has happened in years. But the fundamental thing that the labor movement needs to do remains exactly the same as it was last year, and the year before that: We need to organize many, many more workers into unions.
Approximately 10,100 workers at agricultural equipment giant Deere and Company began to strike at midnight Central Time early Thursday morning. The workers are located at plants in Iowa, Illinois and Kansas, as well as two parts centers in Georgia and Colorado. The walkout is the first at the company in 35 years and is the largest strike by manufacturing workers in the US since the 40-day strike at General Motors in 2019. “Our time is now!” a Deere worker in Illinois told the WSWS. A second worker added, “We are glad to be going on strike, it shows we’re not settling. That’s what everybody wanted the first time,” i.e., when the last contract expired on October 1. “People knew it was time based on the horrible TA [tentative agreement] Deere offered, so they’re fed up and ready to do what’s necessary,” a third Deere worker stated.