The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

John Deere Workers Continue Their Strike

Nov 8, 2021

John Deere workers have turned down the company’s latest contract proposal and voted to continue their strike.

The UAW members began their strike on October 14 after voting down the first tentative contract by over 90%. In the 2nd tentative agreement, the company increased their wage offer and said they would drop a proposal to create a 3rd tier of wages and benefits for new hires. But for the John Deere workers, that wasn’t enough and on November 2nd, they voted it down by 55% to 45%.

The 2nd agreement had wage increases of 20% over 6 years, which is more than most workers are seeing today. But that didn’t nearly make up for all the concessions that the John Deere workers have taken over the years. In 1997, John Deere workers were one of the first groups of UAW members to take big concessions, specifically 2-tier wages and benefits. Deere workers hired since 1997, which is much of their workforce, still do not have a full pension and they do not have retiree health care. Meanwhile, the company is expected to make 6 billion dollars in profits this year and the company CEO got a raise of 160%!

John Deere workers said they have been preparing for this strike since the last contract was narrowly ratified. They have shown their determination in voting to continue this strike.

The strike by UAW workers at John Deere follows on a strike earlier this year by UAW members at Volvo. The workers voted three times to turn down tentative agreements and decided to continue their strike. When the Volvo workers finally voted to end their strike, 49% of the workers said they were ready to continue.

After years of giving up concessions, some UAW workers today are showing they are ready and willing to make a fight. The contracts negotiated between the union leadership and the various companies expire at different times and are designed to keep workers’ fights separated.

But workers can see that all workers, union or non-union, are facing the same problems today. We all have the same reason to make a fight. When one group of workers starts a fight, they can find the ways to spread that fight and have others join them.