John Deere Workers Are Fed Up And On Strike

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John Deere’s workers are mad, BMW says it’s ready for an internal-combustion engine ban, and the Chevy Bolt. All that and more in The Morning Shift for October 14, 2021.

1st Gear: Deere

Workers at John Deere, which is actually just a brand name of Deere & Company, have been discontent for a while now, because they want a bigger share of the company’s billions in profits. A tentative agreement for a new contract had been reached earlier this month, but that was subject to ratification by workers, who took a look at the deal and said, “Nah, fuck that.” The workers are represented by the UAW, which released the following statements:

“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 and director of the UAW’s Agricultural Implement Department. “We stay committed to bargaining until our members’ goals are achieved.”

UAW President Ray Curry, said “The almost one million UAW retirees and active members stand in solidarity with the striking UAW members at John Deere.”

Curry noted that, “UAW John Deere members have worked through the pandemic after the company deemed them essential, to produce the equipment that feeds America, builds America and powers the American economy. These essential UAW workers are showing us all that through the power of a strong united union voice on the picket line they can make a difference for working families here and throughout the country.”

Over 10,000 members at John Deere locations set up pickets. ”Pickets have been set up and our members are organized and ready to hold out and fight for a contract they believe meets their needs,” said Ron McInroy, director of UAW Region 4. “Our members and their families appreciate the community support they have already gotten. Strikes are not easy, but some things are worth fighting for.”

The New York Times also talked to a Deere employee:

“We’ve never had the deck stacked in our advantage the way it is now,” said Chris Laursen, a worker at a John Deere plant in Ottumwa, Iowa, who was president of his local there until recently.

Mr. Laursen cited the profitability of Deere & Company — which is on pace to set a record of nearly $6 billion this fiscal year — as well as relatively high agricultural commodity prices and supply-chain bottlenecks resulting from the pandemic as sources of leverage for workers.

“The company is reaping such rewards, but we’re fighting over crumbs here,” he said.

Deere released the following statement:

“John Deere is committed to a favorable outcome for our employees, our communities, and everyone involved,” said Brad Morris, vice president of labor relations for Deere & Company. “We are determined to reach an agreement with the UAW that would put every employee in a better economic position and continue to make them the highest paid employees in the agriculture and construction industries. We will keep working day and night to understand our employees’ priorities and resolve this strike, while also keeping our operations running for the benefit of all those we serve.”

Deere & Company does not currently have an estimate of when employees affected by the strike will resume activities or the timing for completion of negotiations with the UAW.

One thing that is fairly standard during a strike is that management will say to themselves, “Haha, how hard can those jobs be, we’ll just do it ourselves,” and then management will try it and inevitably fail.

I recommend Jonah’s whole thread! And I should also note that we here at Jalopnik are a union shop, too, so I’m heavily biased. But what I can say for certain is that, if a company’s workers walk off the job, it is never over nothing. People like having a paycheck, even if their job sucks, because every job sucks. If you’ve pissed your workers off to the point that they are willing to forgo their paychecks, you have fucked up.

2nd Gear: Toyota’s Dominance Might Continue Next Year 

Toyota is out ahead of GM for the first time in the U.S. in terms of sales, because they have been more adept at navigating the chip shortage. Analysts expect that to more or less continue or be a draw next year, according to Automotive News. Not in 2023, though, they figure that GM will get back to it. And trucks will likely keep selling.

In terms of sales, Augusto Amorim, senior manager for Americas vehicle sales forecasts at LMC, said the company sees Toyota Motor North America retaining its current sales lead over GM through the fourth quarter and likely keeping it through 2022 as microchip shortages continue to play out.

“We do expect Toyota to maintain its sales lead over GM for the full year,” Amorim predicted. “We expect 2022 to be a tie with GM in market leadership and expect GM to regain market leadership [in North America] in 2023.”

He said light-truck sales will continue to grow relative to cars. “There’s still a market for cars, especially for compact cars,” he said, but overall, car sales will not come back.

Amorim detailed other retail trends that may be concerning for dealers over the longer term. He said lease penetration in the U.S. is moving down, and in September, more new vehicles were financed than leased. He said borrowers are also looking more favorably at noncaptive lenders. Both trends could impact automaker and dealer abilities to recapture return customers by either pulling leases ahead or luring buyers back with attractive captive offers, which in turn could weaken availability of late model off-lease vehicles.

I cannot wait for the chip shortage to be over, what a tedious thing.

3rd Gear: Boeing’s Dreamliner Is The Latest Boeing Plane To Be Cursed

Boeing’s 737 MAX was flawed, with deadly results. Now, The Wall Street Journal reports that the 787 Dreamliner has problems, too. My old friend Andrew Tangel (hey Andrew!) reports:

The new problem involves certain titanium parts that are weaker than they should be on 787s built over the past three years, people familiar with the matter said. The discovery is among other Dreamliner snafus that have left Boeing stuck with more than $25 billion of the jets in its inventory.

The finding is fresh evidence that the plane maker is still trying to fix its manufacturing operations, despite a nearly two-year push by Chief Executive David Calhoun to restore Boeing’s reputation for building quality jets. In addition, the Federal Aviation Administration is investigating Boeing’s quality controls. The company acknowledged it hasn’t solved the problem of junk left over from the production process, such as two empty tequila mini-bottles found in September on a new Air Force One jet under construction.

A Boeing spokesman said the company is making progress on improving production and is raising its own standards, despite operational interruptions. “We have strengthened our focus on quality and constantly encourage all members of our team and supply chain to raise any issues that need attention,” the spokesman said. “When issues are raised, that is an indication that these efforts are working.”

[…]

The Dreamliner’s new problem and FAA investigation haven’t been reported before. The Boeing spokesman said the titanium issue was discovered by the company as part of a continuing audit, as the company hones its quality-management system.

Boeing and regulators have determined that the new titanium issue doesn’t pose an urgent safety risk to planes currently flying, people familiar with the matter said. The company performed immediate repairs to two undelivered aircraft that would have been grounded because they contained a high number of the weak parts, these people said. The company expects to resume handing over the wide-body jets in November at the earliest, later than previously anticipated, people familiar with the company’s plans said.

As a practical matter, flaws in airplanes aren’t something you can really think about, unless you want to have a panic attack every time you fly. That would be understandable, however.

4th Gear: BMW Says Bring On The Internal Combustion Engine Bans

The company that makes BMW M cars says it will deal. From Reuters:

“We will be ICE-ban ready. If a region, a city, a country gets the idea of banning ICEs, we have an offering,” [Chief Executive Officer Oliver Zipse] told a conference in the town of Nuertingen, near Stuttgart.

“The BMW Group is not worried about this. Whether it’s a good idea is another question… but we will have an offering.”

Unlike rivals including Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) and General Motors (GM.N), BMW has not set an end date for production of ICE cars.

However, it has said it expects 50% of global car sales to be electric vehicles by 2030.

I imagine that Oliver Zipse says a small prayer every night. The prayer is, “The BMW Group is not worried about this.”

5th Gear: Chevy Bolt Production Won’t Be Restarted Any Time Soon

The Bolt’s LG batteries are bad, you may have heard, and Bolt production has been stopped since August in part to deal with that. Now GM says that Bolt production won’t restart till November.

From The Detroit Free Press:

General Motors plans to prioritize fixing the 140,000 Chevrolet Bolt EVs and EUVs under recall before it restarts production of new Bolts at its Orion Assembly plant.

On Wednesday, GM said the plant in Orion Township will remain idle until Nov. 1 because of a battery pack shortage related to the recall, said Dan Flores, GM spokesman. GM stopped production Aug. 23 and did not provide a restart date.

“Downtime is being extended to include the weeks of Oct. 18 and Oct. 25 to continue to work with our supplier to accelerate production of new battery modules and prioritize recall repairs,” Flores said in a statement.

GM sounds very ready to put all of this in the rearview mirror.

Reverse: Chuck Yeager

If you have not seen it, I can’t recommend “The Right Stuff” enough.

Neutral: How Are You?

I am going to attempt the impossible tonight, which is to drive to the North Fork and not get snarled in traffic. On Sunday, I turn 37 and will spend the day contemplating things.

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