UAW members ratify Deere contract

2009-10-05T08:45:00Z UAW members ratify Deere contractBy PAT KINNEY, and JOHN MOLSEED, Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier

WATERLOO - It could have been better. But in today's lean economy, it could have been much worse.

That was the general feeling among many members of United Auto Workers Local 838 as they filed out of the McLeod Center on the University of Northern Iowa campus Sunday after hearing details of and voting on a new six-year labor agreement with Deere & Co.

UAW officials in Detroit announced shortly after 7 p.m. Sunday the agreement had been ratified by 82 percent of the membership companywide. The union did not release how the vote broke down among individual locals.

The agreement allowed union members to retain major provisions of their health insurance coverage while increasing co-payments. It provided for signing bonuses and annual lump-sum payments. But it did little to raise pay scales for lower-paid younger workers hired under a two-tier wage structure implemented in previous negotiations.

Shortly after the vote, many members of Local 838 said they expected the contract to be approved by a wide margin.

"For this economy, when so many of our brothers in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, even Iowa aren't working, it's good to have a contract," said one member of Local 838, who declined to give his name, shortly after the vote.

Union member Bill Knipp of Waterloo, a 37-year Deere employee who works at the downtown Westfield Avenue site, tailgated for the ratification meeting. He treated his union brothers and sisters to hot dogs and beverages after they voted, as he has at ratification meetings on previous contracts.

"For me, it's exactly what I needed to be able to feel secure and confident to go ahead and retire," Knipp said of the new agreement. "Because for somebody in my situation, you've got to know what kind of medical you're going to retire under...I would have worked longer had they made major cuts in our medical."

Some younger workers, however, expressed disappointment at the absence of major wage gains. Knipp said he understands their feelings.

"You bet I do," he said. "They wanted parity between us and them, and they were looking for some fairly large gains in that area. But once they started negotiations, they realized health care was the No. 1 issue for a large percentage of the work force."

Another Local 838 member who did not wish to be identified, who has been working at John Deere Waterloo works for more than 10 years, said he feels part of the new contract no longer guarantees job security for 10-year employees and pushes the threshold for the guarantee to 15 years.

"For me, the health care was the most important," he said.

Some Local 838 members said the difference in pay between longtime veteran workers and newer hires since 1997 was too steep.

Others conceded that creating the two-tiered wage system may have helped keep or increase the number of union jobs. UAW Local 838 officials have estimated the previous contract resulted in a net gain of more than 600 union-wage jobs at Deere's Waterloo operations.

"Some locals in Michigan offered to cut wages, but by then it was too late," one Local 838 member said. "We were smart enough to do that early on."

One woman said the contract would have been adequate for a three-year agreement, but the difference over six years was too much to be fair, in her opinion.

Under the contract, Moline, Ill.-based John Deere guarantees no plants will be closed. It guarantees workers a cost-of-living increase and annual lump sum payments at 2 percent of wages for those with less than five years of seniority. Those with more seniority will receive a 3 percent annual lump sum.

It also increases the company's co-pay under Medicare Part B and provides workers with personal legal counsel. It provides 87 paid holidays through the contract and increases vacation days from 2 1/2 weeks to three weeks for those who have at least 10 years' seniority and less than 15 years' seniority.

For new hires, their probation period increases from 90 days to seven months.

National UAW officials praised the agreement, given the current economy.

"In a difficult economic environment, the members of the UAW Deere National Negotiating Committee did an outstanding job of representing the interests of active and retired UAW members at Deere & Co.," said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger.

"These negotiations presented our bargaining team with many challenges, and the key to our success was the solidarity and support of UAW members at Deere," said UAW Vice President Cal Rapson, who directs the union's agricultural implement department. "This new contract provides solid economic gains, protects health care and pensions and strengthens job security."

In a separate press release, Deere president and chief executive officer Samuel Allen said, "This agreement is good for our employees and good for the company. We appreciate the hard work and dedication of our work force as we team together to retain our position as a leader in the various markets we serve."

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(40) Comments

  1. deerechick
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    deerechick - October 12, 2009 1:42 pm
    Have you not been listening or I guess reading for that matter?! Not one person complained of being uphappy in the job, as a matter of fact I don't really see "complaining" as the word to use. It's the point of pay we are trying to make. I do agree there are slackers on both sides(I've seen quite a few younger ones myself" and I do work A LOT of overtime. I have refused ONE weekend since I have been there. As a matter of fact, 3rd shift works a hell lot more than 1st. That is almost anywhere but we are left to make up for what 1st never does. I agree with iowa41 being stuck with supervisors who don't know jack about the lines and who tend to jump only when the old guys try to get at them. Quite honestly momofthree, all of us who work at Deere, we are all worth the same amount. I see myself as no better or no worse than anyone who is there. Should we get the same wages? Probably not, I have stated previously that they have been there an awfully long time and deserve a little more. But, should we be that far off from their wages? NO not at all. We should start out a little lower(of course most jobs are that way)but if we are all at a certain pay level doing the same thing are wages should NOT BE that far apart. As for your salary people, they get paid no matter what. If the people don't do their jobs,they get paid. If people do their jobs, they get paid. I've had a couple great supervisors so I'm not knocking them but I've also had a couple who didn't know their head from their back side.
  2. iowa41
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    iowa41 - October 12, 2009 7:43 am
    I have to agree with deerechick on this one,I am the new guy in my machining cell,I have another job on the side and would like to make as much money in 40 hours as I can and have my weekends for me, but both the old guys on first and second shift prefer overtime to bonuses,they keep giving us supervisors that don't know the job,when I outperform the old guys,I get accused of cutting corners,better trained management would make the company a huge amount of money.One day I had an hour long meeting to go to after work,when I left the first shift guy still hadn't made a part,and the supervisor didn't care--he knew I would make it up the next night.
  3. Cheshire Cat
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    Cheshire Cat - October 12, 2009 7:29 am
    Wow whateveruthink.. You pick one comment out of my post and ignore the rest and say I made your point..You are a funny one.. lol

    The Union at GM need to make concessions.. But they STILL have a product that ignores stricter standards for fuel efficiency and safety. When GM started losing share, its management lobbied Washington for limiting imports of foreign autos through increased tariffs, only to waste its opportunities by increasing prices and profits instead of investing in competitive products. As I said... bad management. Not so for John Deere... They are introducing new product lines and improvements all the time.
    I'm not saying that what happened was not necessary.. But why do you people expect the new hires to bear the brunt of all the cutbacks.. while the incumbents still get all their cushy perks and high wages? You say GM needs to cut wages etc.... I agree... What we are saying is it should not all be on the backs of the new hires.. the incumbents should at least have their wages frozen. That is not happening.. they actually got a RAISE in retirement benefits AND wages with this contract. We do not have expectations of getting the same wages as the incumbents. That is just not going to happen.. what we would like is to be treated FAIRLY.
    The cost of a loaf of bread and a gallon of gas is the same for everyone..but we see the incumbents with a "second vacation home", buying matching jet-ski's, boats etc..we just want to be able to pay the mortgages on the houses we LIVE in.
  4. momofthree
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    momofthree - October 12, 2009 12:01 am
    I hope I am not completely clueless, having lived here most of my life AND having several Deere employees, both union and salaried, as family members and friends. I think you are generalizing when you say the old workers and the young workers. I suspect there are slackers in both groups. For example, who works overtime? I have a couple "young" Deere friends who refuse to work overtime. But I still say they will wish for that overtime if we ever get in a layoff situation. I am sorry you are unhappy but I have never stayed long at a job where I was not happy. I can't understand all the complaining. If you are not being paid what you are worth, find someone who WILL pay you what you are worth. When it comes down to it, you won't find a better employer than Deere no matter which "tier" you are on.
  5. whateveruthink
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    whateveruthink - October 11, 2009 10:26 pm
    Cheshire Cat, you just made my point, duh!!!
    "They did not change with the times". Deere did "cut wages for new hires", they didn't. Exchange rates go up and down, but the jobs are going to go where labor, materials and shipping cost's that affect the cost to produce the product are the least. In your present contract they said they would close no facilities but made no promises on about employment levels. Next time your contract is up hold out for what the pre-97 employees have and see what happens.
  6. deerechick
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    deerechick - October 11, 2009 8:16 pm
    For me there is no jealousy. Teaching is a little different than factory work. Momofthree you absolutely have no clue how the older crowd treats the younger crowd. The younger crowd, we want to get things done, earn a little extra on our CIPP checks, etc...The older crowd "when we hit the number we are done" "i've got this amount of time and it won't be any less" You have no clue how different the Union treats old from the young. Am I grateful for the job I have, sure I am. I'm also about total fairness when it comes to the work and the job. Someone without the knowledge of what actually goes on inside has NO CLUE!
  7. momofthree
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    momofthree - October 11, 2009 5:56 pm
    A few layoffs might change some of your thinking. You'd be glad to have that job back and wouldn't care what the guy next to you made. Nearly all of the long term workers at Deere went through long term layoffs in the 80s...
    In my younger years, the woman in the next room was in her 36th year teaching. We taught exactly the same classes. She made several thousand dollars more than I and the only feeling I had was jealousy. However, she taught me more in the three years I knew her than I learned before or since.
  8. Cheshire Cat
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    Cheshire Cat - October 11, 2009 3:28 pm
    whateveruthink- The concessions don't have as much to do with the reason they have plants around the world as you think. JD is a global company, it is the fluctuation of exchange rates that helps to determine where things are built. (import and export) This is purely economics. A large reason they have not put more plants there is as I said.. Mexico has problems holding parts to JD's spec's. There is a reason they are presently putting $90 million into the plants in Waterloo.

    Comparing the Big 3 Auto problems to JD is comparing apples/oranges. They did not change with the times and kept trying to jam cars/SUVs etc. down our throats that no one wanted to buy. The Labor agreement of course played a part in it.. but it was MOSTLY bad management.
  9. whateveruthink
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    whateveruthink - October 11, 2009 12:02 am
    Hardworker, how little you know about your own company. Deere already has 3 facilities in Mexico and without the concessions that have been made there would be more by now. You just don't get it, look at the big three automakers and the shape they are in. If they would have years back done what Deere did in 97 they would still be thriving. Its too bad but that's the way it is and there is no going back.
  10. Cheshire Cat
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    Cheshire Cat - October 10, 2009 11:34 pm
    whateveruthink- They already tried Mexico.. got nothing but scrap/junk for engines... Apparently there really is something to that "good ol American ingenuity". They tried to use crankshaft castings from Mexico too... not anymore..

    Oh, Ye of so little
  11. hardworker
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    hardworker - October 10, 2009 10:16 pm
    Hey "whateveruthunk" your a pretty smart thinker! Since you have all the facts, don't you think Mexico will always be cheaper labor than Americans? So why does'nt Deere move down there anyway? BECAUSE THERE WILL ALWAYS BE FOOLS WHO TO TAKE HOOK, LINE
  12. deerechick
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    deerechick - October 10, 2009 9:51 pm
    To all who say "you don't like it find a different job or different wages for different jobs" If you are not a Deere worker, obviously you do not know that there is different pay scales for different types of work that is done-anyone with brains would figure that out already. Next, how would you like to be standing next to a person who is a "lets say level 6 paygrade" and which you are too but hey that person is making $10 more than you are FOR DOING THE SAME THING YOU ARE?! Bet we "new hires" wouldn't here all of you say "find a new job" You see, we aren't complaining about the job, more the lack of responsibility the Union has for the new hires and just wanting fair pay. Heck, anybody would want that.
  13. timbrackett
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    timbrackett - October 10, 2009 5:41 pm
    sidelines--my comments were in reference to the fact that conservativeus has been using the 'empty suit reading the teleprompter' line since the primary campaign when obama was more involved in his speech writing.
    nevertheless, here is the result of my research of the facts.,8599,1837368,00.html

    yes president obama, like his predecessors, has a team of speech writers. however, unlike many of his predecessors, he is very hands-on in the writing process and continues to write or co-write most of his speeches.
  14. whateveruthink
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    whateveruthink - October 10, 2009 11:33 am
    I won't ramble on nonsensibly like hardworker but spell out the facts. The fact is John Deere would have slowly moved Waterloo production to Mexico or elsewhere unless the union agreed to lower the payscale for new hires. No matter the profits they make now or in the future the post 97 workers will never have the wages or benefits the pre 97 workers had.In order to compete in the global economy they have to do this. Accept it or find employment elsewhere. If they cannot find people willing to work for less they will shut the doors and move out of the country.
  15. Cheshire Cat
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    Cheshire Cat - October 10, 2009 9:39 am
    BRAVO !!! Well said hardworker. JD as an employer has hired very qualified corporate negotiation attorneys and paid them top dollar to be "forward thinkers" for all the possibilities to bring to the table. My guess is that the next contract in 6 years the retirees/incumbents will have much to worry about, as we (new hires) will be in total control by then. I have no doubt JD attorneys thought of this. After all their Mission statement is in part "Investing in the Future". I'd say that was money well spent on their part. It's just a financial game to JD. Their strategy was a winner- we are in check, but is not in checkmate yet.

    I find it so ironic that not one of the incumbents or union negotiators thought of this as they were voting on that 1997 contract. It's easier to find a Yeti than to get one to admit they signed that contract. You have to pick your battles in life. This is one they should have fought.
  16. hardworker
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    hardworker - October 09, 2009 10:05 pm
    The two-tier system is not new. It is important to remember that when racial, and sex discrimination was in its heyday, and could be practiced openly and with pride by citizens of note, that this was made possible because society (or at least a large part of it) found racism or sexism to be perfectly acceptable. Of course the reason for the discrimination really had little to do with skin color or sex, but rather had everything to do with greed and exploitation, and with gain at the expense of others. But blatant avarice, while being the foundation of capitalism, is nevertheless so unacceptable in Christian society that one must have a different ostensible reason for ones actions, it being at the time more acceptable to paint blacks as an inferior race and to find other rationalizations or presumptions for sexism.
    The word 'discrimination' mean when referring to oppressive inequity? If you check out Webster's or Oxford, you will likely find reference to the differential treatment of persons based on reasons other than merit, or a reference to discrimination of persons categorically rather than individually. Some dictionaries will roll both meanings together into one sentence. And it is these connotations that most people have in mind when wage discrimination is spoken of.
    So, now that we are clear as to what is meant by discrimination, we can pose the following question.
    If, as is the case in North America, the law dictated that employers could not use gender as a reason for wage discrimination, but if, on the other hand, the discrimination was not based on gender, or race or religion, or any other specifically prohibited form of discrimination, but instead the discrimination was based on entirely specious reasons, in other word no real reason at all, if that then made it "ok", where would the rational and logical and moral sense lie in that?
    It would appear that today many employers are doing just that. Knowing that they cannot legally discriminate against employees for the specifically prohibited reasons, they choose instead to seek out, or create amongst their employees, certain classes not specifically mentioned in law, by which they can exercise, and reap the financial benefits of, discrimination. And this creative invention or discovery of classes is clearly done only with the intent of discrimination in mind, for there is no other reason for this process of classification that could result in a net profit (the prime motive in capitalist society), at least none that I can think of.
  17. wardski
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    wardski - October 09, 2009 9:48 pm
    YEP So much for making it better or watching out for my kids-the union sold out again. Wow now AGAIN I can rest and relax on my retirement--I dont care about the next generation having to work!! I dont care about the future Sold you poor saps short again!
  18. Cheshire Cat
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    Cheshire Cat - October 09, 2009 8:00 pm
    My post was actually directed at the Courier staff.. THEY know what I am talking about and why I said what I did.
  19. momofthree
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    momofthree - October 09, 2009 6:44 pm
    For all of you unhappy newbies at Deere, why don't you quit? They aren't paying you what you are worth (so you say) so go find something better. I am sure there are plenty of people who would be delighted to have your job.
    As far as the "equal pay=equal work" argument, go see how it works anywhere. There will be different wages for different jobs in any business.
  20. XXXLarge
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    XXXLarge - October 09, 2009 4:29 pm
    President Obama signed his first bill into law on Thursday, approving the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a law named for Ms. Ledbetter, fourth from left, an Alabama woman who at the end of a 19-year career as a supervisor in a tire factory complained that she had been paid less than men.

    Doesn't this apply if a person doing the excact same job as the other person is doing should be compensated the same?
  21. XXXLarge
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    XXXLarge - October 09, 2009 4:22 pm
    Isn't there some law on the books called "Equal pay for equal work?" I thought there was some civil rights thing about this back in the 1970's? I wonder if there are any civil rights or employment attorney's that read this who could address that issue?
  22. sidelines
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    sidelines - October 09, 2009 3:42 pm
    FACT CHECK Tim Brackett Obama not only doesn't write his own speaches he has an entire team to write those wonderful speaches we all love. Google Jon Favreau, Adam Frankel and Ben Rhodes. Be careful what you spout off about before you know the facts. Obama meets with Jon on a daily basis. Cheshire Cat was Eric Rule involved with the UAW or Deere at all? Just wondering why the rant on this blog? The post 97 empoyees got screwed and everyone knows it. For having the majority we sure acted like congress talking a big talk with no results.
  23. deerechick
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    deerechick - October 09, 2009 1:05 pm
    Not that I'm surprised that the contract was voted in but it sure shows who has more "bounce" in the Union. The younger new hires work just as hard as the older guys, maybe even harder. We deserve to get a fair pay for the jobs we do. You can definitely see who does more of the work and who puts in more effort to make sure things are done right. I'm not saying it wasn't a good contract because it wasn't bad but I'm just saying that the younger hires should've gotten a bigger pay raise. The older guys have put up with a lot more being there for so long but they don't do much of the work anymore, heck even our CIPP checks looks horrible compared to theirs. The Union should have stood up for us too but if you ask a lot of the younger people, they don't and they won't until the older crowd is gone. Maybe they should remember we pay our Union dues every month too.
  24. meatgal
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    meatgal - October 09, 2009 9:39 am
    I could care less what cheshire thinks about what I blog...all I ever see posted from her is blah blah blah...
    BTW, I didn't mean to post those two right after each was a mistake on my part, but dang...hang me for it would ya?
    I agree w/ post97...
  25. timbrackett
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    timbrackett - October 08, 2009 9:56 am
    conservativeus keeps making me laugh. like how he continually ridicules our president for 'reading a teleprompter' when anyone who knows anything about our president knows he writes most of his speeches. the odd humor strategy of making fun of someone for being able to read the words they themselves have written is certainly daring. i don't believe any other comedian has attempted the same type of joke. but that's what i love about conservativeus's brand of humor--he boldly goes where no one else will go. it keeps the comedy fresh and invigorating. when your name is in the bright lights of hollywood and you are the toast of the stand-up comic circuit throughout the world, please remember that i was one of the first to recognize your comedic talents.
  26. conservativeUS
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    conservativeUS - October 06, 2009 11:20 pm
    cheshire thinks my posts are abrasive but then it goes on about Rule whose own wife called the cops on, then attacked the cops, then was shot in self-defense by the cops. nice.

    unfortunately for the abortionists, union types, liberals all, mmm mmm mmm barack hussein obama mmm mmm mmm is destroying this country. he is an empty suit who can read a teleprompter. wuoopie!
  27. post97robbed
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    post97robbed - October 06, 2009 8:02 pm
    Hey "Cheshire Cat" why don't you go post that crap about Eric on a page that has a story about him. That's old news and no one cares anymore. As far as "Robin11" goes...if me going on strike for a few months takes away from the old timers that don't need anymore money, then I'm willing to do it. All these old timers still working at Deere's didn't have to fight for anything they have now because the generation of Deere workers before them fought for everything they have.
  28. Cheshire Cat
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    Cheshire Cat - October 06, 2009 12:34 pm
    I am curious why the Courier keeps posting the redundant and abrasive comments of the likes of conservativeUS and meatgal to name a few. Yet you pick, choose and show bias with what you post from people that actually HAVE an opinion and are involved in these issues. Their comments add nothing to the blog... you have two comments from meatgal that basically say the exact a ROW no less. The point of this is DISCUSSION, not attack the blogger for their personal views or in the case of conservativeUS, make every article into your personal "I hate Obama" blog.
    I have blogged many comments about Eric Rule that you will not post. Your people even emailed me asking about info about Eric for a story that you were going to do on him.. No story was ever written. People can talk crap about Eric... some really nasty stuff- you post it. But not if its about the officers involved. There can never be Justice for Eric Rule.. as he will still be dead. and his little girls will not have a Daddy to help them thru life. The least you could do is be fair and unbiased in your postings.. and not let YOUR personal opinions cloud what you post. If Officer Bose is punished for what he did ( I doubt it, I know how these things work) I would hope you can be fair and remember how you treated Erics family by posting some really NASTY stuff. Same thing with the guy that killed himself after the stand-off..You should be ashamed at how you let people attack the families of these people. I'm sure this will never reach the blog. But I still needed to say it.
  29. robin11
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    robin11 - October 06, 2009 8:04 am
    The problem with the so-called youth at UAW, you've never tasted a strike. In my opinion, the best thing that could of come out this was put the youg...ums out on strike and their attitude may change or quit and see who else is willing to pay you the benefits you are now getting, good luck
  30. wingnut71
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    wingnut71 - October 05, 2009 11:25 pm
    I was very worried that we would get laid off a ton more, and get very little concessions. So, it doesn't come as a surprise that we (Local 838) got the "Status Quo" contract. Nothing will change until we hire bright College educated laywers to assist our Union to not defraud it's developing youth. I have so many issues with our Union. However, good things can come from it...we must voter our hearts and not our pocket books for our future when electing UAW officials. Don't be a sell out.
  31. conservativeUS
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    conservativeUS - October 05, 2009 6:34 pm
    where is mmm mmm mmm barack hussein obama mmm mmm mmm. he rails against anyone who gains in this evil capitalist empire!

    of course, in the 58 state United Socialist State of America, it is going to get ALOT worse.

    mmm mmm mmm barack hussein obama mmm mmm mmm
  32. reojoe
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    reojoe - October 05, 2009 2:51 pm
    I'm not sure that anyone is whining, other than those on here who work for $9 per hour and have been duped in arguing against those who fight for decent wages for the working class. Surely the union isn't whining.
  33. sidelines
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    sidelines - October 05, 2009 2:38 pm
    There is a simple way to show your disapproval, turn in your union card, they don't represent you anyways. Any one notice the sharp upturn in deere stock today????
  34. meatgal
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    meatgal - October 05, 2009 12:55 pm
    quit your friggin whining and be dang grateful that you even have a job to go to...sheesh.

    If you don't like it, QUIT!
  35. meatgal
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    meatgal - October 05, 2009 12:10 pm
    y'all should quit whining and be dang grateful that you have a job w/ the way the economy is today....if you don't like what you are getting, quit and look for something else...
    sounds to me like it's a decent contract, considering the circumstances for all involved.
  36. post97robbed
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    post97robbed - October 05, 2009 10:54 am
    Bottom line the Union is corrupt as they come. They left the new hires out to hang while bending over backwards for the old guys. The news hires have to pay because 90% of the old guys who make 90% of the money at Deere's cant afford to retire because they cannot manage their money. The Union is ran by corrupt people who knows nothing better than to screw the average person.
  37. post97worker
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    post97worker - October 05, 2009 7:29 am
    It wasn't fixed, more than the people in the mccleod voted. And from the look at

    our local union reps didn't explain the benefits and the increases of this contract very well that was the real problem at mccleod.

    Yeah pre 97 workers are up to 3200 at the end of this contract and post 97 workers are up to 2900 at the end of this contract and none of it temporary like the pre 97 guys.

    You can vote again and it would still pass and the percentage would go up, because more people would understand it.

    If you don't like the contract quit working at deere, it that simple if you are so sure that a better job can be had in Waterloo, ia just quit, no one is making you stay.

    And to the union reps, great negotiation, explaining though that needs a little work. Try layman's terms next time.
  38. timbrackett
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    timbrackett - October 05, 2009 12:55 am
  39. DeereWorker
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    DeereWorker - October 04, 2009 9:49 pm
    What a joke, I demand a revote from a 2nd party, our Union is corrupt, the post '97 workers have majority, and in this contract they got nothing, but yet the retirees get $3200.00 a month in retirement thats up from $2800.00, they get more than the workers do. It was rigged no way we voted this in with majority vote! If we got a revote through a 2nd party I guarantee this wouldnt pass!
  40. lootown2
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    lootown2 - October 04, 2009 8:17 pm
    it was totally fixed you were not even there it was all most a riot the dummies at the the table were scared to death could not even answer the questions
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