Increasing numbers of employees threatening, participating in strikes

by mcardinal

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News


A divergent group of unionized workers have grown more demonstrative in their demands for increased pay and more agreeable working conditions as of late. 

On Thursday, roughly 10,000 United Auto Workers members who work for John Deere went on strike over a wage dispute. The company recently offered a 5-to-6% raise, but the union rejected this on the grounds that it does not represent a fair deal in the face of John Deere’s profits. 

“Our members at John Deere strike for the ability to earn a decent living, retire with dignity and establish fair work rules,” Chuck Browning, Vice President and director of the UAW’s Agricultural Implement Department, said in a statement. “We stay committed to bargaining until our members’ goals are achieved.”

UAW President Ray Curry added, “The almost one million UAW retirees and active members stand in solidarity with the striking UAW members at John Deere.”

Through a press release, Brad Morris, John Deere’s vice president for labor relations, said the company was working to find a mutually beneficial solution. 

“John Deere is committed to a favorable outcome for our employees, our communities, and everyone involved,” Morris said. “We are determined to reach an agreement with the UAW that would put every employee in a better economic position and continue to make them the highest paid employees in the agriculture and construction industries. We will keep working day and night to understand our employees’ priorities and resolve this strike, while also keeping our operations running for the benefit of all those we serve.”

According to a report by Karl Evers-Hillstrom of The Hill, more than 100,000 workers, inclusive of the John Deere employees, have threatened walkouts in recent days. 

On the West Coast, 96 percent of nurses approved their members’ request to strike against Kaiser Permanente. This vote did not trigger a strike, only made one possible; but, were a strike to commence, as many 38,000 nurses could walk out of California and Oregon hospitals. 

At issue between Kaiser and its union is the matter of money – the parties differ on whether or not Kaiser employees make more or less than the national average – and a staffing shortage. The nurses have requested a 4% pay raise and a plan to address the staffing shortage.

In a statement on Oct. 1, weeks before the vote to strike, Kaiser Permanente senior vice president of Human Resources Arlene Peasnall said that despite the company’s contract with  its union expiring on Sept. 30, the company was still working to resolve the issue.

“We ask that our employees reject a call to walk away from the patients who need them,” Peasnall said. “Our priority is to continue to provide our members with high-quality, safe care. In the event of any kind of work stoppage, our facilities will be staffed by our physicians along with trained and experienced managers and contingency staff.”

The parties’ original contract expired on Sept. 30 and the the nurses’ union says Kaiser should have extended a 30-day contract at that time. Additionally, the union argues Kaiser’s proposals for smoothing out the other grievances has been insufficient.

“Our members turned out in record numbers to say that they are willing to do what it takes to save patient care in Oregon,” Jodi Barschow, president of the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals said in a statement. “Kaiser’s proposals would be a disaster for Oregon’s entire care system and show a profound disrespect for the frontline healthcare workers who are risking their lives during COVID.”

In Hollywood, the Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees says its workers, about 60,000, will walk out on Monday if demands for increased wages as well as additional time for meals and sleep are not met by major entertainment companies like Disney, Warner Brothers, and Netflix.