Discover more from Fred Klonsky in Retirement
The John Deere strike. A two tier pension system sounds familiar to this retired teacher.
Strikes and threats of strikes are busting out all over.
We seem to be in the middle of strike fever.
Yesterday 10,000 UAW John Deere workers hit the picket lines. It’s the largest industrial walkout in two years.
Last week, more than 1,000 Kellogg workers went on strike, and workers with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), which represents some 60,000 film and television employees, overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike.
Mondelez International, which makes Oreos and other Nabisco snacks was struck during the summer. Coal miners in Alabama have been on strike for months. Workers have also waged prominent union campaigns at Amazon and Starbucks.
24,000 Kaiser Permanente workers voted to authorize a strike over pay and working conditions.
2,000 hospital workers in Buffalo have been striking since October 1.
For John Deere workers the issues are wages, improved retirement, healthcare benefits, and a safer working conditions.
The strike deadline was announced earlier this week after union members overwhelmingly voted down a tentative agreement reached between the union and the company, with 90% rejecting the proposal.
John Deere’s profits grew 60% in recent years. The CEO received a 160% salary increase during the pandemic.
John Deere reported a net income of $1.6 billion, and forecasted full-year earnings of up to $5.9 billion.
Key worker grievances include pension changes for new hires and retiree health care costs.
The pandemic has more clearly revealed that workers are working longer, harder and with less compensation and they are not seeing any part of the the profits that their companies are reaping.
John Deere workers have not recovered from the past contract settlements.
Pension benefits were bargained substantially lower for workers hired after 1997.
Many benefits were eliminated for new hires including health care benefits for retirees hired after 1997.
Deere’s two-tier pension system reflects a national trend where pensions still exist, including among members of public pension systems like the one teachers in Illinois have.
Like Illinois legislators, John Deere bosses want to move retirees into a 401K and eliminate pensions entirely.
These lousy contract settlements reflect a UAW leadership that has been problematic at best.
Looming over the negotiation is suspicion among rank-and-file workers toward the international union after a series of scandals in recent years involving corruption in the union and illegal payoffs to union officials from executives at the company then known as Fiat Chrysler.
The scandals led to more than 15 convictions, including those of two recent U.A.W. presidents.
Mr. Munley said he had worried that the U.A.W. would try to negotiate a marginally better deal and sell the membership on it before the strike deadline Wednesday night, but said he was encouraged that the union had held firm.
“I was happy to see we didn’t come back with a tentative agreement,” he said. “It restored some of my faith in my international.”