Amid historic strike, John Deere workers tentatively resume contract talks with company

A week ago, 10,000 John Deere workers walked off the job, initiating their first strike in over 35 years. The mobilization comes on the heels of a wave of strikes throughout the food system and across the country: Kellogg workers went on strike earlier this month, Nabisco workers did the same in September, and Frito-Lay workers in Topeka led a 19-day work stoppage this summer. At John Deere, workers took action after rejecting a new contract, which would have locked in sub-inflation wage increases and eliminated pensions for new hires. Those changes would have created a two-tiered compensation system that disadvantaged future employees, per an in-depth analysis by Labor Notes and The Intercept. For comparison, John Deere saw record profits last year and its CEO received a 160 percent pay increase thanks to performance bonuses, reports The Ottumwa Courier. As of today, company and union representatives say that negotiations have resumed, which may come as promising news for the rest of the ag industry, which is already fretting about rising equipment costs due to the strike.