Jonah Furman Profile picture
"putting the movement back in the labor movement" with @labornotes at // weekly newsletter at:
2 Nov
"Three dozen" workers showed up to a protest at Boeing in Auburn, WA. The company employs over 5,000 workers at that location.

But I guess that's what counts for a rebellion these days?

Meanwhile, 15,000 workers are on strike across the country for wages and working conditions.
It seems to me this is a blue collar rebranding of a longstanding anti-Federal government politics. That doesn't mean it's not real; lots of workers won't take the vaccine.
But until it reaches serious scale and takes on the employer per se, and not just Joe Biden's perceived overreach, it is mostly political theater fed by headlines. Orders of magnitude more people have quit in "the great resignation" than anything vaccine-related.
Read 4 tweets
2 Nov
New Deere contract vote is today. We will likely know results late tonight. I would bet $1 (but only $1) that it passes.

Notably, strikers have *not* seen actual contract language on most items.

UAW members, let me know how your ratification meetings go.
What’s behind a potential no vote?

1) Deere has more money to spend, and members know it. The 10% raise, though impressive, represents less than 1% of Deere’s *profits* over the past year.

2) Wages still won’t be that great. By 2027, most will be making $25.25 hourly.
3) Some members feel if they doubled Deere’s wage offer in 17 days, they can get more in another couple weeks, especially as Deere’s new fiscal year begins in earnest.

4) Strikers can find other jobs to stay afloat for longer — its a tight labor market.
Read 8 tweets
31 Oct
Whatever else happens, it’s pretty amazing that 10,000 workers struck a Fortune 100 company and got an immediate 10% raise and saved the pension for all new hires.
Deere and the UAW leaders said 5% and no new pensions was acceptable? And the members overwhelmingly said it was not.

And then they struck and doubled the offer. If workers fight back together, you can win a battle against corporate America.
Members will vote on Tuesday AM whether or not to accept this offer and end the strike or hold out for more.

Lots of members are telling me this isn’t enough. They need to end the tier system all together and make it possible to retire from Deere with a pension and healthcare.
Read 4 tweets
30 Oct
Take it with a grain of salt, but there’s a text message exchange circulating on Facebook that details supposed highlights of the new Deere tentative agreement, from someone present at negotiations. If it’s legit, the new TA contains…
— An immediate 10% raise (up from 5%), plus 5% in 2023, and 5% in 2025, so 20% over 6 years (up from 11-12%).

— new hires will have option of pension or 401k benefit. So *sounds like* they killed the third tier, but devil is in the details.

No new tier, better wages. Wins.
What it *doesnt* do is the big one: revert to pre-1997 pension levels or retiree healthcare. That is the white whale for this strike. Lots of members wanted that, lots of members didn’t think it could happen in one contract cycle.
Read 4 tweets
30 Oct
Got my hands on another proprietary Wall Street analyst's report on what they think about the potential tentative agreement at Deere. Here are a few quotes that stood out to me:
"The most significant issue will be whether Deere was willing to back down from the tier wage & benefit system. I'm not suggesting greater wage hikes aren't needed too, but the main sticking point is the tiered hires."
"Deere & senior UAW leadership seemed a bit tone deaf to this when the rejected first agreement tried to not just keep the tiers already established in place but also sought to implement another tier for new hires post the new agreement"
Read 12 tweets
30 Oct
Here's a thread I'll keep updating of Deere strikers' responses to the question:

What would make you vote "yes" on this new tentative agreement? What would make you vote "no"?
Read 19 tweets
15 Oct
Long thread, but important: John Deere workers have reached out to me frustrated about media repeating company talking points that workers make 60-70k a year. One who's been there over a decade showed me what they made in 2020: Under $40k. So let’s talk about wages at John Deere. Image
First of all, the pandemic caused layoffs, for which workers were not paid by Deere. Layoffs even in normal times are not uncommon. Deere’s “$60k/year” figure is based on working 2200 hours; that’s over 42 hours per week for 52 weeks in a year.
But most Deere plants have layoffs that can run up to 3 months of the year, so many workers don’t get those hours. In 2015, the last contract passed by under 200 votes, because many workers were laid off, wanted the ratification bonus, & didn’t know when they’d be working again.
Read 13 tweets
14 Oct
For anyone just catching up on the 10,000 worker UAW strike at John Deere -- the largest strike in the US in two years -- here's how you can get up to speed, based on what I've written for @labornotes:
@labornotes In early September, Deere presented a disastrously bad first offer to the membership. They likely wanted to lower expectations by super-lowballing them, but ended up pissing everybody off, and members authorized a strike by 99%.…
@labornotes They got to the edge of a strike on October 1st, but at the very last second, the UAW and Deere announced an "extension," averting a strike and further pissing off members. Then a tentative agreement that they wouldn't let anyone see for a week.…
Read 7 tweets
14 Oct
It's on.
Read 6 tweets
14 Oct
From a salary worker @ Deere:

"The Deere "strikebreakers" are currently ~650 salary employees pulled from engineering & mgmt positions across Deere. Note: I say "Strikebreakers" because I can guarantee that with our lack of skill and numbers, we will not be breaking the strike."
"To my knowledge, most of us will be allocated to the Milan Parts center. Deere's spent an enormous amount of time, money, & effort trying to get us all trained, but not many of us are really ready for this. We'll be working 12 hour shifts, 6 days/week, with day & night shifts."
"In my position, I am not looking forward to this. I think the wage employees deserve a lot more than what they were offered, and I absolutely support them striking."
Read 6 tweets
12 Oct
Just got this beautiful (anonymous) testimony from a John Deere worker:

"We know it's not going to be easy, but we are all ready. This is only 2nd contract for many (a lot of new hires in 2010 & 11). I know I was there 6 years ago. People were angry then. We were ready then..."
"This time, so much different. There is much more anger. We are tired. We are tired of making pennies. Tired of spending more time in the building then with our family. We have given them so much of our life. So many more are thinking of their future..."
"We have some in their 70s still working for the healthcare. We don't want a 2 tier. They are trying to create a 3 tier. We will not sell out our younger brother and sisters..."
Read 5 tweets
8 Oct
This week I wrote a bunch of stories for Labor Notes, all righteous union fights:

A thread 🧵
On 10,000 union members at John Deere's fight for a fair contract, as trust erodes between members and the UAW International after years of corruption and concessionary contracts, and as the company tries to eliminate the pension and give meager raises:…
On the Kellogg's strike, and how 1400 workers are fighting back as the company goes for the kill, also ending the pension and gutting pay, while cutting hundreds of jobs:…
Read 6 tweets