Labor expert explains lasting impact of Deere contract

The third contract proposed was ratified by 61% of union members.
Published: Nov. 21, 2021 at 11:26 PM CST
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QUAD CITIES (KWQC) - Now that John Deere & Co. has a new contract with the United Auto Workers, a labor expert says the deal will have a lasting effect on not only our community but also the nation.

John Deere proposed three contracts: the first, only 10% of United Auto Workers approved. The second was approved by 45%, and the third was finally ratified by 61%.

“This is a victory for a lot of people. It’s a victory for Deere workers certainly because they stood up for themselves. And for future generations to protect good jobs in our communities. They got a better contract than they would have gotten without the strike, and they stuck together as a union throughout the strike,” explains Paul Iversen, a labor educator at the University of Iowa.

UAW members stood on the picket line for 35 days, asking for things like better wages and healthcare plans. Not only did this negotiation help Deere employees, but possibly others nationwide said Iversen.

“This is part of this national uprising that has taken place since COVID. Workers all over the country in organized and unorganized ways have said ‘we’re not going to go back to the way that employers were treating us before covid that employers have to treat us with respect have to provide us with pay and benefits that allow us to support ourselves and have to provide a safe work environment.’”

As over 10,000 Deere employees return to the facilities, they may expect the environment to feel a little different: “usually after a strike, morale is actually better than it was before the strike. Because before the strike, there’s this pent-up feeling that doesn’t maybe put in a page that people were just dissatisfied. And now maybe you haven’t satisfied everything, but you’ve gotten yourself a lot closer to what is what you consider a fair relationship.”

Both Deere and UAW call this agreement “groundbreaking” and are ready to get their employees back to work.

The 6-year-contract includes several things Iverson notes as impressive, including the cost-of-living adjustments, which will take inflation into account. Healthcare is free for employees as well, something Deere says is practically unheard of in this day and age.

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