Labor expert weighs in on Deere strike ahead of third vote

An important day for John Deere and UAW members as workers on strike head to the polls Wednesday and cast a vote for the third time on a “modified final offer”.
Published: Nov. 16, 2021 at 6:46 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - An important day for John Deere and UAW members as workers on strike head to the polls Wednesday and cast a vote for the third time on a “modified final offer”.

“Deere used to be the preeminent place to work. You hoped that Deere would hire you,” said Paul Iversen, a Labor Educator at the University of Iowa.

He said for some, the strike is about a legacy for past, present, and future generations.

“I’ve talked to people on the picket line that are third or fourth generation Deere employees, who say that they’re at the picket line to make sure that there [are] good jobs for the fifth and sixth generation”

Iversen also says the strike is a reflection of the change in the employee and employer relationship over the years.

“Over the years, Deere has come back to the workers and said, ‘Well, you know, times aren’t so good right now, will you work with us and give in on a few of these things so that we can weather the storm?’ and they’ve done that, but it has led to long term deterioration in the conditions and it was done with the understanding that when times were good, the company would give those things back. Now times are as good as they can get.”

Mass resignations across many industries have given workers leverage.

“If not now, when? This is a time nationwide wherein organized and unorganized ways, people are getting together, workers are getting together and saying things have to change. We’re not going to go back to the pre-COVID employer-employee relationships,” he said.

With strikes like Kellogg’s, running parallel with Deere’s, employers and unions will be keeping a close eye on the outcome.

“What happens here is being watched by people all across the country,” he said.

Even if the union turns down this deal, Iversen said that’s not the end of bargaining.

“Your last best and final offer doesn’t necessarily mean it’s your last best and final offer,” he said, “Sometimes what the employer is trying to do with calling it a last best and final offer is to set up to argue that they’re at impasse and impasse does have legal implications. Parties are at impasse when both parties have reached the point that they are entrenched in a position that neither is willing to move from, but there’s not an agreement.

Iversen says the decision is ultimately up to the workers.

“We just have to sit back and respect that process as the way democracy works. They’ll vote and if a majority of them say yes then they’ve gotten new contracts. If a majority say no, then we’ll be back here tomorrow, saying, ‘Okay, what does this mean long term?’.”

Copyright 2021 KWQC. All rights reserved.