Over 10,000 John Deere union employees are going on strike after failing to conclude a collective bargaining agreement. UAW is stating the the company would not come to an agreement over pay, retirement benefits, and improvements in working conditions for the workers.
“Our members at John Deere strike for the ability to earn a decent living, retire with dignity and establish fair work rules,” said Chuck Browning, Vice President of UAW Agricultural Implement Department.
Kellogg workers across the United States are striking in response to a reduction of benefits and cost-of-living wage increases. The company has also proposed moving production lines from the U.S. to Mexico and implementing a two-tiered employment system.
According to the Bakery and Confectionery Workers International Union of America representing the workers, the proposed system would have new hires making less in wages and would not have the ability to receive a pension. Also, 30% of the current workforce would pay higher costs for healthcare and would lose access to retirement benefits.
As Striketober continues to grow, unions are taking up the fight against the two-tier wage system. To put an end to the divisions between generations of workers and ensure equal pay for equal work, it is essential that unions continue this fight until they win.
At the picket lines of striking Kellogg’s workers, sign after sign read the same slogan: “equal pay for equal work.” It is a sentiment a number of workers described to us when we asked them what they’re fighting for. They stressed that they’re fighting against a two-tier system that has divided workers since their last contract was implemented six years ago. They spoke of how unfair it is that more recently hired workers doing the same work alongside older workers on the production line make significantly less in wages and benefits. While senior Tier 1 workers get to choose whether or not they do overtime, overtime hours are forced upon Tier 2 workers in chronically understaffed facilities, many of whom are forced to work 16-hour days, seven days a week. At a rally at the Lancaster ticket in Pennsylvania on Saturday, October 9, a worker, Andrew Johnson, described how Kellogg’s hired new workers with the promise of higher pay and the same benefits that Tier 1 workers get. Yet, after joining, they soon saw how empty those promises were, as there were little to no opportunities for Tier 2 workers to advance. Now, faced with new contract negotiations, Kellogg’s workers are emphatically declaring their solidarity with their more junior coworkers and their right to earn equal pay for equal work. It is a fight they all see as their own.
In a recent opinion piece for the Guardian, economist and former secretary of labor Robert Reich posits that the United States is in the midst of an “unofficial strike.” Responding to the bourgeois media and economists’ panic over the U.S. Department of Labor’s September jobs report — which showed the lowest number of jobs added for all of 2021 and an increasing number of workers dropping out of the workforce — Reich explains that the hiring challenges facing many industries results from the fact that more and more workers are “reluctant to return to or remain in their old jobs mostly because they’re burned out” and are holding out for better prospects.
While conservatives wring their hands over how big government spending on benefits is incentivizing people not to return to work now that the bosses and politicians decided the pandemic is over, Reich offers another explanation for the “labor shortage.” Pointing to high numbers of workers quitting their jobs each month, and to the numbers of people “in their prime working years” leaving the workforce entirely, Reich sees these trends as a sign that after a year and a half of pandemic lockdowns, layoffs, lack of childcare, and increased precarity, workers are less willing to accept the low wages, inadequate or nonexistent “benefits,” and long hours their employers offer. This is particularly evident in the tourism and logistics sectors, such as hotel work and trucking, both of which report hiring difficulties and are not rebounding as fast as economists predicted. He writes:
According to a report published by Wealth-X, 2020 witnessed the largest growth in billionaire individuals since they started recording this data. The United States has the largest share of the world’s billionaires with 29%. China and India had the highest percentage growth of billionaires at 19.9% and 19.5%, respectively.
The growth in billionaires over the previous year was largely attributed to “expansive government support measures [which] propelled a dramatic rally in financial markets, after an initial pandemic-driven collapse.”
The report also suggested an increasing centralization of privately-held wealth, with billionaires representing 1% of the population of ultra-high net-worth individuals yet holding 28% of the cumulative wealth.
LANSING, Mich. (PAI)—And just like that, Michigan’s prevailing wage law made a comeback.
Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Michigan will again require contractors to pay prevailing wage on state-sponsored taxpayer-funded construction projects. Prevailing wage has been the single most important law that governs construction worker wages, but efforts by conservative lawmakers over the years reduced the number of states with it to 24.
The prior Republican regime in Lansing repealed Michigan’s prevailing wage in June 2018. Whitmer’s restoration ensures any construction worker working on a state-sponsored construction project receives a wage that “prevails” in their locality. Her order does not cover locally funded projects.