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  • Negotiations, injunction, health insurance mark first full week of Deere strike | National and regional news

Negotiations, injunction, health insurance mark first full week of Deere strike | National and regional news

By on October 23, 2021 0

CARA SMITH Quad-City Timetable

The UAW strike at Deere & Co. lasted its second weekend. Here is a summary of the events of the first full week of the strike.

Representatives from Deere & Co. and Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) returned to the negotiating table.

Deere’s rejected six-year offer would have increased wages by around 5% over the term of the contract. The agreement also limited retirement benefits for workers hired after the contract was ratified. Deere workers have faced forced overtime and mistreatment from executives and other company executives, several employees said on condition of anonymity, fearing retaliation. They said the latest contract offer was unacceptable, especially given the company’s record profits over the past year. For fiscal 2020, Deere & Co.’s net profit totaled $ 2.751 billion, according to the company.

In all of the Deere factories in the Quad-Cities, the picketers saw large donations of food, firewood and weather equipment from community members, local businesses, local unions and others. as an expression of solidarity with workers while advocating for higher benefits.

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“It’s really nice to see everyone coming together,” said David Schmelzer, a trade unionist at the Milan factory, as he stood in front of his own factory’s food donation stock along Airport Road. . “I hope after that you know we will be stronger for this. “

In a show of continued support, small businesses in the Quad-Cities are offering free or discounted goods and services to unionized workers and their families, ranging from free burgers and alcohol to discounted haircuts and repair of ovens.

“Honestly, it helps 100% with stress management,” said a striking UAW worker, having his hair cut. “Knowing that we have the support of the community to help us through it all – it was either that or shave my head.” “

Moline Police say a semi-truck entered Gate 24 of the John Deere Seeding factory in Moline driving “too fast” on the morning of October 19 and near a group of unionized workers on the picket line.

Union members were near the driveway when the truck passed the barrier. A night guard in a patrol car was at the intersection when the truck entered the factory and asked the driver to drive slower to the site entrance.

Unionized workers at the Milan and Davenport Deere factories continued to line the roads Tuesday, creating clumps of blue and white “UAW on strike” signs against a clear blue sky.

A worker hoped for a reasonable and fair outcome for all parties.

“There has to be common ground,” said a worker at the Milan plant.

Deere sought and received a temporary injunction, which limited how unionized workers could behave on the picket lines at Davenport Works.

Deere informed the Chief Justice of the Scott County District Court that the conduct of the picketers had disrupted access to his properties and endangered others, including members of the UAW.

“Deere & Co. has obtained a temporary injunction order to maintain a safe environment for all of our employees and contractors, including those who report for work and those who exercise their right to strike,” said Jen Hartmann , Director of Corporate Public Relations and Social Media. . “This temporary injunction has been put in place to ensure the safe entry and exit of the facilities of John Deere Davenport Works.”

Chief Justice Marlita Greve granted the injunction on Wednesday, ordering the UAW to limit the number of picketers that can be “near” each door at Davenport Works to four, prohibiting the use of chairs and barrel fires by picketing and banning harassment and intimidation tactics that at least five trucking companies have said they have encountered.

When union members heard about the injunction around 1:30 p.m., they immediately rushed to comply with the new regulations, according to two employees.

Union members rushed to pack chairs, tents and stocks of food and firewood to comply with the order. The supplies were then transferred to the Local 281 office, according to employees. Crowds were reduced to just four members per door at the Davenport plant. The fire barrels were kept in place overnight as they were still real fires and it would have been dangerous to try to transport them, union members said.

After a week on the picket line outside the John Deere Davenport plant, strikers are now subject to strict restrictions on how and where they can picket. Experts have said that some terms of the injunction are unusual.

Labor law experts who reviewed the Deere injunction say the ban on chairs and fire barrels is unusual and the injunction lacks sufficient evidence to prove their role in impacting entry and leaving the Davenport Deere factory.

James M. Cooney, an expert in labor and employment law at the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations, said the alleged exhibits did not directly mention fire barrels or chairs used to create dangerous situations, there is no basis for prohibiting it.

“I think there is no reason to ban firebombs unless there is evidence that they were using the fire source to intimidate and block,” Cooney said. “From the documents I have read, even the company does not claim this.”

Cooney said this could open up the possibility for the UAW board to argue for changes to the injunction.

Specifically, the UAW can file a “motion to vary” or to completely dissolve the injunction. In order to argue for changes or dissolution, they would have to provide evidence to counter what was alleged in Deere’s injunction.

Lawyers could potentially argue that, since there was no specific mention of how the fire barrels and chairs were used to create a dangerous situation or impact the entry and exit of doors , there is no reason to ban them, according to Cooney and Iversen.

More than 20 people gathered outside the Scott County Courthouse on 4th Street to show solidarity with striking UAW members.

Community leaders, union retirees, people with unionized family members and local government officials attended and spoke out in favor of the strike and criticized Deere’s injunction.

“We’re here to say that as a community, John Deere doesn’t have the power, you have the power,” said Honda Wang, a union organizer who launched the event.

Shane Lindburg and Dave Crosiar were two of four union members on the picket line at the main entrance to the Davenport Works plant to withstand the 46 degree temperatures without fire barrels for the first time since the strike began .

This morning’s scene contrasts sharply with that of Monday, when more than 50 people were gathered on the picket line. Lindburg and Crosiar said a community member dropped off hot chocolate for the picketers to help them stay warm.

Crosiar said he felt comfortable on the picket line despite the lack of a heat source.

“(The injunction) doesn’t scare me,” Crosiar said. “We do what we have to do. “

Deere & Co. will continue to provide health care to UAW workers and pay continuous improvement compensation plan incentives earned before the strike as scheduled, the company said in a press release on Friday.

“John Deere’s healthcare and CIPP incentives are essential aspects of John Deere’s peak wages and benefits,” the statement said. “We are taking these steps to demonstrate our commitment to doing what is right for our people and to focusing on everything we can accomplish together.”

Workers outside the East Moline plant gathered around a fire barrel, a few feet from the large inflatable black rat named Scabby.

Unlike the Davenport factory, they can still have fire barrels, group together in groups of more than two, and store snacks and firewood on site.

Among the crowd was a young worker who had just finished his third day at the East Moline factory when the workers went on strike.

“We are trying to get him through his fourth day,” joked a trade unionist.

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