Live updates

Live updates: Deere management declares rejected contract was its “best and final offer”

Send your statement of support to the John Deere strikers at autoworkers@wsws.org! We will publish them on this page throughout the day. To learn more about joining the John Deere Workers Rank-and-File Committee, Deere workers can email deerewrfc@gmail.com or text (484) 514-9797.

Deere states it’s “actively seeking to get second tentative contract ratified”

Deere is saying it’s “still at the negotiating table” with the UAW over how to secure the contract proposal that a majority of workers voted to reject yesterday.

Shelby Kluver, a reporter for WQAD in the Quad Cities, tweeted Wednesday afternoon that a company representative had told her “Deere is still at the negotiating table and actively seeking to get the second tentative contract ratified. There is no moves being made for a new, third contract that goes beyond the scope of the second’s offer.”

Mark Howze, Deere’s chief administrative office, told Bloomberg News earlier in the day that the agreement was the company’s “best and final offer.” He also told the San Francisco Gate, in a statement that was equal parts condescending and threatening, “We want to make sure they understand the value of the agreement, to make sure they understand that there is nothing to be gained by continuing to hold out. To some degree, because we were able to come to a resolution as quickly as we were, I think there’s some folks who believe there must be some more available.”

For Deere to claim there is not “more available” is simply not tenable. The company is set to make close to $6 billion in profit for its previous fiscal year, far exceeding its previous record, and demand and prices for its agricultural equipment have been on a sharp upward trajectory.

The UAW, for its part, is seeking to buy time and lull workers while it works out the best method with Deere to impose their second deal. The UAW bargaining team sent a mass text to workers Wednesday claiming implausibly that it had not been “directly” told the second agreement was the company’s final offer, “The UAW is aware Deere put out this was our last, best, and final offer. We were never informed directly. Bare with us as we sort this out.”

As the WSWS previously warned, the UAW is following the same treacherous playbook it worked out with Volvo earlier this year, where it defied workers’ rejection of a third concessions contract and forced a re-vote on the agreement.

It is critical that Deere workers organize now, setting up rank-and-file committees across the plants, in order to prevent the company and UAW from proceeding with their conspiracy to impose the second contract by one or another means.

Faurecia Gladstone auto parts worker speaks out in support of Deere workers: “This is not the end of the struggle”

A supporter of the rank-and-file committee at Faurecia in Columbus, Indiana, spoke to the World Socialist Web Site on workers’ rejection of the UAW contract at John Deere. Faurecia is a global auto parts maker, and the Columbus plant supplies exhaust converters to Deere.

We have been watching the union sellouts at Dana Corporation, Warrior Met Coal, the teachers across the country and many other contract struggles. John Deere workers, the rank-and-file committee at Faurecia stands with you. We have to stand together and show the capitalists that we will not accept these sellout contracts any more. The gravy train is over.

Deere workers are doing a good job of building a rank and file committee. The IWA-RFC [International Workers Alliance of Rank-and-File Committees] is getting stronger by the minute. We all need to stand together. John Deere is a global corporation. We need to get word to our co-workers in other countries and keep each other informed about what’s going on.

The unions are trying to keep us divided. They kept quiet about the no votes at John Deere to keep workers in the dark and force the contract through. If more workers knew how many were voting no, they would have voted with more confidence and more of them would have voted no. But the unions’ grip is wearing thin. More workers are joining rank-and-file committees.

John Deere workers need to get with the IWA-RFC so that they can keep in touch with each other and we all can plan together. This is not the end of the struggle.

When they said Dana’s contract passed, we knew the unions screwed them. The unions are working for the capitalists. They are not working for us.

Video: WSWS Labor Editor Jerry White speaks on struggle after workers rejected second TA

What way forward for the Deere strike? WSWS Labor Editor Jerry White speaks after workers reject second TA

Dana Workers Rank-and-File Committee issues statement: The “No” vote by John Deere workers shows Dana workers must overturn the illegitimate UAW-USW-Dana contract!

Fellow Dana workers:

On Tuesday, 10,000 Deere workers voted by a 55 to 45 margin to reject a sellout contract that the UAW tried to force them to accept. They did so despite the UAW using the same dirty tricks as the UAW and USW used against us Dana workers in recent weeks.

Just like at Dana, the UAW refused to give Deere workers the full contract and tried to rush through a vote while claiming the offer was the company’s “best” and threatening that another rejection would lead to a long, purposeless strike. Deere and the UAW dangled a large signing bonus ($8,500) to bait workers into accepting a rotten six-year deal that would guarantee higher corporate profits than ever. At ratification meetings, the UAW pulled the mic on workers and refused to let them express their hostility to the contract.

But Deere workers said “no!” and sent a powerful signal to autoworkers and the working class as a whole that they are standing firm to guarantee a contract with an immediate $10 hourly wage increase, fully paid retiree health care and pension benefits.

Now is the time for Dana workers to join Deere workers and all auto workers to overturn the fraudulent contracts signed by the UAW in recent months and years.

These contracts are illegitimate. They were agreed to by corrupt union executives who accept bribes from the corporations. They are forcing us into conditions of deeper economic hardship while corporate profits and CEO pay soar to unthinkable heights.

The process through which the UAW and USW claim the second tentative agreement at Dana was “passed” was illegitimate and unacceptable. The Dana Workers Rank-and-File Committee (DWRFC) declares the contract null and void. We are only now beginning to learn some of the rotten details that were withheld from us when we were blindfolded and forced to vote last month.

Read the full statement

Deere management declares rejected contract was its “best and final offer”

Deere management has declared that the contract offer which workers rejected yesterday was their “best and final offer,” and that they would not be returning to the bargaining table, Bloomberg News has reported.

“The agreement that we provided is frankly our best and final offer,” Marc Howze, chief administrative officer for Deere, told the business news outlet. “In order for us to be competitive we have gone as far as we’re gonna go.” In a separate news release, the company also declared today that it would “execute the next phase of our Customer Service Continuation Plan,” ie, its strikebreaking operation.

This outcome is not unexpected. Moreover, it amounts to giving the United Auto Workers its marching orders to shut down the strike and enforce the contract which workers just rejected. No doubt, the UAW will attempt to seize upon this to ride roughshod over the democratic will of the workers and move rapidly to attempt to send the strikers back to work. Even if the union is unable to accomplish this, however, it will seek to isolate and starve out the Deere workers on the picket line with a woefully inadequate $275 weekly strike pay.

This was the clear meaning of the UAW's own statement in the aftermath of the vote, which said: “The strike against John Deere and Company will continue as we discuss next steps with the company [emphasis added].”

Deere is following the playbook of the Volvo Trucks strike to the letter. A month into that strike, Volvo Trucks workers delivered a stunning rejection of the third consecutive tentative agreement brought by the UAW. Volvo Trucks and plant manager Frankie Marchand responded by declaring that the contract was their “last, best and final offer” and that it would unilaterally impose it.

Even as Volvo management was openly calling on workers to cross the picket line, the UAW served as their battering ram, forcing workers to re-vote on the contract which they had just rejected, while making it clear that regardless of the outcome the union was intent upon ending the strike. The contract “passed” under the re-vote under dubious circumstances by a mere 17 votes.

Volvo seized upon the narrower margin of defeat of the third tentative agreement by attempting to split the workforce between those who had voted “no” and “yes,” encouraging the latter to cross the picket line to work under the terms of the rejected contract. Similar tactics will likely be attempted by at Deere.

In particular, the UAW may attempt to split the Waterloo and Dubuque locals, the centers of opposition to the deal, from the locals which voted yes or rejected it by a narrow margin, sending the latter back to work while forcing Waterloo and Dubuque workers to fend for themselves.

The turn now must be to the broadest possible mobilization of the working class in defense of the Deere strike, against both management and the UAW. Deere workers are in a powerful position, and can defeat both the ruthlessness of the company and the treachery of the union, but they cannot fight them alone.

All workers, taking up the principle that “an injury to one is an injury to all,” must mobilize in defense of the strike and against UAW attempts to sabotage and isolate it. Deere workers should appeal to workers and plants which voted for the contract not to allow the company and the union to disrupt their solidarity. Workers across the country, meanwhile, must develop independent rank-and-file support committees to prepare for joint, nationwide action in defense of the strike.

Support begins to roll in for Deere strikers from autoworkers across the US

Send in your statements of support to autoworkers@wsws.org.

Retired International Harvester worker: “As a former farm-implement worker and vet of the great 1979-80 International Harvester Strike, I, like I am sure thousands of others, am proud of you and your efforts to begin reversing 40 years of union-enforced company concessions. Seems it is not an exaggeration to say the world is watching you.”

Dana workers in Warren, Michigan: “It's awesome that they voted ‘no’ and are still fighting for what they want. Stay fighting till you get what you deserve! Don't give up.”

“Way to go, keep fighting! Please show us Dana workers what we could have received if we had kept fighting.”

Stellantis Sterling Heights Assembly worker: “Rightly so! UAW leadership being exposed AGAIN!

“We need to hold the union responsible for their actions, they are not upholding what's due to the membership. We must stick together, majority rules!”

Stellantis Toledo North Assembly worker: “Wow, this is good news. People will respond positively to this here at TNAP. People are sick of the low expectations bargaining style.”

Frank, an autoworker from Detroit: “A message to Striking Deere workers: You are the labor movement, you are the front-line for ALL workers, union or not. Don't let the Corrupt UAW do to you what they did to workers at FCA/Stellantis. You are powerful and in a position to make A REAL DIFFERENCE. You have the support of your UAW brothers and sisters in District 1.”

Deere workers rank-and-file statement: What’s next in our strike

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Yesterday, we voted down the second contract brought back by the UAW. Despite all their efforts to convince us that their deal was the best we could get, and to rush us into accepting it without showing the full contract, we held firm. This is because we are fighting not just for ourselves, but for our families, for all workers and for future generations.

The eyes of the world are now on us, and we are in a strong position to fight and win our demands. Deere has struggled to hire and fill orders, and it needs our labor power more than ever. And if we wage a determined struggle, we have the support of workers throughout the US and around the world.

Now is the time for us to fight to win!

However, the UAW throughout this entire process has proceeded from the opposite standpoint. They act as if the company is God, they’re its priests, and we only deserve what it is willing to bestow. To win our fight, however, we must act now to form our own organizations, rank-and-file committees, to carry out a real struggle.

The statement from “Solidarity House” last night shows the UAW is doubling down on its strategy and is plotting its next move together with the company. In just three sentences announcing our rejection of their deal, the UAW public relations team wrote, “By a vote of 45% yes to 55% no, UAW John Deere members voted down the agreement this evening. The strike against John Deere and Company will continue as we discuss next steps with the company. Pickets will continue and any updates will be provided through the local union.”

Excuse us, Messieurs Curry and Browning, discuss next steps with the company? Clearly it never occurred to you to discuss next steps with us workers, whom you take dues from and claim to represent.

But from the beginning, the UAW bureaucrats haven’t listened to what we want. They pulled the mic on our brother in Waterloo who told them what he thought of their sellout yesterday, and they had the gall to tell our brothers and sisters at Harvester that they didn’t want to hear any “nasty comments” about the contract.

The UAW says that “any updates will be provided.” Clearly, they plan to continue what they’ve been doing all year: keep workers in the dark on what they’re actually discussing with the company, while working out plans to try to get another deal through, as quickly as possible, which doesn’t meet our demands.

Every Deere worker should study what happened to our brothers and sisters at Volvo Trucks earlier this year, which shows one type of betrayal the union bureaucracy could be preparing.

The UAW—with Ray Curry in the lead—brought back three concessions contracts that workers voted down, the first two times by over 90 percent. After the third contract was rejected by 60 percent, the UAW forced workers to re-vote on the exact same agreement less than a week later, telling them the company would unilaterally implement it no matter which way they voted. Even still, many Volvo workers defied this blackmail, and the UAW claimed the contract passed by just 17 votes, refusing to respond to calls for a recount.

We won an important battle yesterday. But to win the war, we must press our offensive. We can’t allow Deere and the UAW any time to regroup and attempt to force through the same deal, or something largely similar with one or two cosmetic “sweeteners” thrown in.

Read the full statement

Ottumwa worker explains Deere workers’ demands

“The contract had a good offer for those wanting to retire, but the refusal of Deere to add to legacy costs by continuing free insurance through retirement was the shortfall. Many were wanting guaranteed, ‘vested’ insurance to continue, and not be retractable by company. They're tired of all the lies from Deere, and want them to provide for the broken bodies they helped create.

“On the wages side, many were wanting 20 to 30 percent wage increases. They feel they deserve what the UAW bureaucrats got on their last raise.

“They are VERY fired up against CIPP [Continuous Improvement Payment Plan, the company's incentive pay scheme], as almost half of the plans are not making premium money (above 115 percent). But the heads of the UAW are strongly in support of CIPP. They feel it is a good incentive plan, but the failure lies with Deere departmental management overloading plans with people to push the schedule out the door. This raises input hours while keeping the output steady.

“Workers have complained and have many long term grievances, that company HR directors have just sat on for many months. To push these grievances through, a plan has been devised to have top UAW and Deere HR review the plans that have been making less than 115 percent for 9 months or more, providing the plan has an active grievance, has been working through an FIP [joint committee that looks at ways to increase preformance] for 6 months, and up to 3 months of sub-premium wages past the first period. People are fed up with this.

“Senior employees have taken their skills and knowledge to retirement or to other groups having larger percentages. This pushes other lines to even lower numbers, with lesser skilled and knowledgeable workers. HR officials are also allowing different handling of different groups by departmental supervisors and ME's [mechanical engineers]. Many times it poor results are due to failures by the DE [Design Engineer] or ME to complete departmental CIPP improvements. This is worsened by newer engineers [replacing knowledgeable retired ones] to not know how to, or have knowledge how to complete these projects. This keeps the wages low.

Workers are proposing to have a percentage of these 3 individuals' pay be reduced for plans not making premium earnings. This way they will have larger incentives to help the struggling plans. They have also been asking for a different metric be used besides production, maybe quality. This will help lower rework and help lower input costs, thus increasing percentages. They were promised by those setting up CIPP that when lines are no longer able to earn premium earnings, due to previous semester base adjustments trips, they would have a new metric. With almost half of the plans failing, they are asking for this new metric.

“Everyone is watching for how the Deere contract works out. Bottom line, we want higher wages.

“These people want to support their families, and they work these 12 hours days, and it absolutely kills them. It’s mandatory, and their bodies are just flat breaking down. And they don’t see any way out. Without medical benefits, they’re going to feel stuck. It’s tough to get on long-term disability.

“Deere workers are worried the wonderful community support we have received will be lessened by the misinformation being distributed by the media. They’re experts at dividing us. Deere capitalizes on that type of thing.

“But we need to get the rank-and-file together to see exactly what we want and decide which direction they want to go in. The UAW, they're not willing to fight for this. And maybe they shouldn’t be in there.

“We need to have a call to arms and get everybody standing together like it used to be.”

Cross-Canada Educators Rank-and-File Safety Committee issues statement hailing rejection of Deere contract

Dear brothers and sisters!

Our rank-and-file committee of educators in Canada has issued a statement that was published today on the WSWS. In it, we offer our full support for your struggle. Here is the resolution:

“We, the Cross-Canada Educators Rank-and-File Safety Committee (CERSC), are a group of education workers across Canada who are fighting to save the lives of children, workers and the community as a whole by advocating for an elimination strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We stand in solidarity with John Deere workers in your courageous struggle against the company and their hacks in the UAW. We are paying close attention to your struggle because workers everywhere are fighting the same struggle, regardless of the industry we work in. As unionized public sector workers in Canada, we are learning lessons from your struggle, especially about the dirty tricks the union and the company are using to break your strike. We expect the government and the public sector unions to employ similar tricks here, so we are arming ourselves with the knowledge necessary to defeat their efforts to sabotage our struggle.

“In Canada, education workers are under attack from pro-corporate governments, which are forcing kids and workers back into unsafe schools so that parents can go to work to be exploited for the profits of the parasitic financial elite. Schools have become COVID farms where children and education staff are exposed to a disease that is evolving into more contagious and more lethal variants. Public education has been under assault for decades by pro-big business governments in Canada, which have imposed wage and benefit cuts on us, and slashed public spending on education.

“Education workers and Deere workers in the US and around the world face a similar struggle. Governments in Canada and the US have been captured by the oligarchy and serve its interests. The assault on the working class in the private and public sector benefits the oligarchy. Cutting our wages, cutting our pensions and cutting our benefits means the elites get to steal more of our money and force us to live barely above the poverty line. All this is happening in the middle of a global pandemic where schools are forced to open, so that workers at John Deere and other profitable multinationals can go to work and be exploited for the profits of corrupt executives and shareholders. Both John Deere workers and education workers and their children are exposed to this lethal pandemic so that the rich can continue to increase their wealth by risking workers health and lives.

“Just as your strike is part of a growing strike wave in the US, similar struggles are mounting here in Canada. Tens of thousands of public sector workers are currently on strike against attacks on wages and pensions in New Brunswick, and thousands of workers at mining, industrial, and food processing companies have walked off the job over the past few months.

“The CERSC stands in solidarity with you, John Deere workers! Your struggle is part of a developing counter-offensive by the working class to secure decent-paying, secure jobs for all!”

Warmest regards,

Laurent Lafrance for the CERSC

Striking Deere workers defeat second UAW-company agreement

Striking workers at John Deere defeated a second United Auto Workers-backed tentative agreement on Tuesday, voting to reject it by 55 percent and defying the UAW’s attempts to ram the contract through. Union officials released five pages of contract “highlights” only two days before the vote, hoping to stampede workers into accepting the deal before they could adequately study and discuss it.

While the defeat of the contract is a courageous step forward by a significant section of industrial workers, it is more important than ever that control of the strike be wrested out of the hands of the corrupt UAW bureaucrats, who have been doing everything they can to secure Deere’s wishes. There can be no doubt that UAW executives were holding emergency talks with their Deere counterparts on Wednesday and are continuing to plot with the company over how to overcome workers’ resistance.

The experience of the strike at Volvo Trucks earlier this year provides the sharpest warning to Deere workers. There, the UAW responded to a third rejection of a concessionary agreement by running roughshod over workers’ will and forcing them to re-vote on the deal they had just rejected, subsequently claiming ratification by a dubious margin of 17 votes.

For their struggle to be successful and workers to achieve their aims, the strike must find a new path forward. Rank-and-file strike committees should be quickly organized at every Deere facility, linking up with the Deere Workers Rank-and-File Committee, in order to break through the UAW information blackout and mobilize reinforcements for the strike throughout the auto and heavy equipment industries.

The UAW spent much of Tuesday afternoon and evening keeping workers in the dark on individual plants’ vote outcomes, with many union locals waiting six hours or longer after polls closed before announcing their results.

The largest local, Local 838 in Waterloo, Iowa, which has nearly 3,000 workers and has been a center of opposition to both the contracts this year and in 2015, did not release its results until after the overall outcome was announced, in an apparent effort to prevent momentum building for an even larger no vote. Workers in Waterloo voted to reject the deal by 71 percent, which almost undoubtedly would have catalyzed even more opposition had it been revealed earlier in the day.

Read the full report

Auto parts worker in Toledo discusses the sellout at Dana and its implications for Deere

A Dana worker spoke to the World Socialist Web Site Tuesday afternoon about how the UAW forced through a sellout contract last month at the auto parts maker, comparing his experience with the contract vote at Deere.

“They had the informational meeting Saturday and on Monday they wanted you to vote. There was no time for any kind of investigation. I saw it coming, the holidays coming up and the money. They knew what they were doing.”

“A lot young people they just hired, who were attending school or were not going to stay [were persuaded to vote ‘yes.’] They are bringing in so many new people, 100 every month, and probably only 10-20 stay.”

“They had everyone vote. Before you had to have 90 days, but this time they had everybody voting. They were using scare tactics saying you would lose this or that.

He described the intimidation that workers faced, saying “At the union meeting a lady asked a question and the union guy says ‘what are you, stupid?’ How do you talk to people like that? They would be like a hiring an attorney and he puts you down in front of the judge. The union told them that after working 19 days you would get 2 days off. But we came to find out that only applied if the product is not in demand. The product is always in demand. The people aren’t getting 2 days off. They lied.

“The union doesn’t do anything,” he concluded. “It is nothing but a sellout. The truth needs to get out about this place.”

Waterloo Drivetrain Operations worker: “It’s time to step up and do something”

A veteran worker at Deere’s Drivetrain Operations in Waterloo, Iowa, said, “Most of the people I’ve talked to about the contract, their view is not very positive. The raise on this isn’t really a raise after cost-of-living increases.

“Everybody thinks we could get that same pre-1997 package that was in the past. Health care, we were paying nothing when I started, now it’s $40 for each visit, and more if you have to go to the emergency room.

“I need to retire someday—I can’t work till I’m 100—but I’m not going to be able to retire at 60. I’m not going to be able to work 30 years and then get out, cause our 401(k) is horrid.

“And you’ll have to go out and get your own health insurance once you’re retired, and by that point you won’t be able to afford it.”

Describing his experiences with the UAW, he continued, “I don’t know how many times we’ve gone to UAW with complaints, about overtime and other things, and they’ll say, ‘Well, that’s a gray area.’ I need this gray area to become not a gray area. It should either be this way or that way. It’s not that hard to print a true statement.

“The UAW do nothing for us,” he said. “They’re right in the back pocket for John Deere, it’s like they think Deere is the god and we have to do what they say.”

He recounted the UAW’s efforts to ram the 2015 contract through, not providing workers the full contract and or time to study the terms. “In 2015 you were walking in blinded. And by the time we got done voting, the news already said we passed it.”

“First thing the UAW said about this contract is that it’s the best they’re going to do,” he said. “But obviously their calculators are broken or they don’t know how to do math. Deere has 17 quarters with highly profitable gains, and yet don’t want to give good wages and benefits. We still have people working here on food stamps.”

“It’s all scare tactics, they think that we’re weak,” In 2015, he said, “No one was communicating, but people are getting more and more word out, and we have hope.

“I know we had Facebook or whatever back then, but it didn’t seem used as much. It’s helped a lot for us to communicate to our brothers and sisters throughout Iowa and Illinois this year, so people feel comfortable voting no.”

Concluding, he said, “It’s time to step up and do something, we can’t just complain about it.”

Deere workers issued statement Sunday opposing latest tentative agreement: “Reject UAW-Deere blackmail!”

After more than two weeks on strike, the United Auto Workers is trying to rush through another pro-company deal, which ignores our demands for raises big enough to make up for 25 years of eroding wages, time off with our families, and fully paid retiree health benefits and pensions for all workers.

To add insult to injury, the UAW is trying to pull another fast one like it did in 2015 by making us vote before we have time to sufficiently study and discuss the deal. They are telling us to vote Tuesday without access to the full contract and letters of agreement that will dictate our lives for the next six years.

We are workers, not industrial slaves! The Deere Workers Rank-and-File Committee calls on workers to demand the release of the full contract and all side letters now and insist on a full week to study the contract before any vote. If the UAW goes ahead and holds the vote, Deere workers should reject the deal on principle and toss it in the garbage where it belongs.

Rank-and-file workers must also demand the right to oversee the voting process, so the UAW doesn’t repeat what it did in 2015, when it claimed the hated contract miraculously passed by 180 votes. No one should doubt that the UAW won’t try to make the vote come out the “right” way if they think they’re able to get away with it.

The self-serving “highlights” no doubt conceal numerous other concessions that we would only find out later. What we do know, however, is enough to reject this deal like we did the first one.

View the full statement