Over 10,000 striking members of the United Auto Workers union at John Deere are voting Nov. 17 on a third company contract offer recommended by union officials. Workers struck the company’s 12 plants Oct. 14, rejecting a contract that expanded to three the different tiers of pay and benefits. The divisive two-tier setup was first forced on workers at the company in 1997.
Union officials said this third contract offer contains only “modest modifications” to the one striking workers rejected by 55% Nov. 2. It had included higher wages and other concessions by the bosses, but nothing new on the key issue of tiers of wages and benefits.
One of the company concessions many workers liked in the last offer was restoring the cost-of-living raises to help wages keep up with inflation.
Under the new offer, posted by UAW Local 838, the main change to the offer workers previously rejected is a raise in weekly bonuses. Paid to groups of workers who exceed production goals — by working faster — these will now be capped at 20% rather than 15% of workers’ pay.
Strikers report that they have won significant support in their battle. One supermarket near the East Moline, Illinois, plant is offering $50 worth of free groceries to everyone with a union card.
The outcome of the vote is unknown as the Militant goes to press. Full coverage of the results will be carried in the next issue.