John Deere Trying To Discontinue Retirement Benefits

On Iowa Press this week we got to hear from Charlie Wishman, President of the Iowa Federation of Labor , AFL-CIO; and Paul Iversen, labor educator at the University of Iowa Labor Center, about the issues involved with the current UAW strike against John Deere.

It was a breath of fresh air to not have to listen to Republicans on the program for a change.  O. Kay Henderson showed a sudden ability to ask challenging follow-up questions, even interrupting answers being given in response to one of the other reporters. Don’t see that every week! That is, when Republicans are the guests.

This week’s Iowa Press is definitely worth watching despite the reporters asking such questions as “Why is there a picket line?” immediately followed by  “What does a picket line achieve?” and “How long will the strike last?” Hopefully, they were playing the reporter game of “devil’s advocate” or perhaps trying to educate those who haven’t been alive long enough to know what strikes are all about. But if that’s what they were doing they didn’t say that and it came off more like a dig.

But as Al Franken jokes at the beginning of his podcast, this was still a great show – for a change.

“These folks are out there striking in part on behalf of employees they haven’t even met yet who haven’t even been hired yet because one of the issues is they (Deere) want to remove the retirement system for anyone hired after Nov. 1. So folks who have lived with contracts that have divided workers into different tiered systems, they’re saying enough is enough. These are folks in their 40s and 50s who have busted their butts for Deere for twenty years and many of them feel they have yet to come close to the American dream.” – Charlie Wishman, President,  Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO

“The workers when they get together have a lot of power. Employers can either cry and say we can’t find anybody or they adjust, pay better, respect their employees, and treat them as human beings rather than as cogs in a machine. Ultimately, employers will have to change the way they approach employees or they’re not going to have anyone to do the work.” – Paul Iversen, University of Iowa Labor Center

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