Unions for both farm equipment manufacturing employees and technical workers in the entertainment industry announced their intention to strike this week.
Deere & Co. employees have said that their wage and benefit increases are not adequate and rejected proposed changes to the pension plan for new hires, while the company brings in record profits. The union and the company reached a tentative agreement on a new contract earlier this month, but on Sunday workers overwhelmingly rejected the offer, with the Deere employees union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America 281, saying in a statement, “The tentative agreement reached by the UAW and John Deere was rejected this evening by a majority of 90% of the membership.”
The UAW called back its negotiating team and set a strike deadline for 11:59 p.m. ET Wednesday. The strike would affect more than 10,000 employees in Illinois, Iowa and Kansas and was authorized last month with 99 percent approval.
“John Deere was once a premium employer,” Marty Carter, a Deere employee for the last 11 years, told the Des Moines Register. “It used to be the best place to work. It isn’t anymore. I think about our kids and our grandkids. We need great places for them to work one day, when they grow older. This isn’t going to do it.”
The last strike at the company, best known for building tractors and lawn mowers, was in 1986 and lasted 163 days.
Meanwhile, the president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees announced Wednesday morning that roughly 60,000 workers would begin striking on Oct. 18 at 12:01 a.m. PT if an agreement isn’t reached. Workers including costumers, makeup artists, camera operators and set builders had authorized a strike earlier this month during negotiations over a living wage for the lowest earners, more rest periods and compensation from streaming productions. The last time crews went on strike was in 1945.
“The pace of bargaining doesn’t reflect any sense of urgency,” the union’s president, Matthew Loeb, said in a statement. “Without an end date, we could keep talking forever. Our members deserve to have their basic needs addressed now.”
The union is negotiating with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents studios and streaming companies. Those conversations have been ongoing for months, with the initial deal expiring at the end of July and a temporary extension continuing through Sept. 10. Any strike would essentially halt entertainment production.
“There are five whole days left to reach a deal, and the studios will continue to negotiate in good faith in an effort to reach an agreement for a new contract that will keep the industry working,” said Jarryd Gonzales, a spokesman for the studio alliance.
These are just two of several potential strikes brewing across the country. Earlier this month, more than 24,000 workers for the health care giant Kaiser Permanente in California and Oregon authorized a strike. The members of two nursing unions said they are pushing back against a proposed two-tiered wage and benefits system that would result in newer hires making less, as well as addressing wage increases and staffing shortages.
Last week 1,400 workers at Kellogg’s cereal factories went on strike across the country, the latest action by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union. Over the summer, the union organized actions from Frito-Lay and Nabisco workers. Prior to the strike, Kellogg’s announced its intention to cut 212 jobs at its Battle Creek, Mich., location.
Additionally, about 1,000 Warrior Met Coal workers in Alabama have been on strike since April 1 and have picketed outside the New York office of BlackRock, an investment bank that the United Mine Workers of America says is the largest shareholder in the coal company.
“American workers are now flexing their muscles for the first time in decades,” wrote Robert Reich, who served as secretary of labor under Bill Clinton. “You might say workers have declared a national general strike until they get better pay and improved working conditions.”
The strike news comes with millions of jobs unfilled and the pandemic seemingly having shifted more power to workers. On Monday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released data showing that a record 4.3 million Americans, or nearly 3 percent of the workforce, quit their jobs in August.
Last week, the September jobs report showed slower growth than expected, as the ending of the federal expanded unemployment benefits program did not spur people to find work. A number of Republican governors who cut off the program early and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce had predicted that cutting unemployment benefits would increase labor force participation and reduce the shortage, but that hasn’t been the case.
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