Wednesday, November 03, 2021

John Deere workers continue strike

 A lot going on with the John Deere workers who are here on strike.  Right now WSWS has a live feed.   Here's the workers' statement:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Yesterday, we voted down the second contract brought back by the UAW. Despite all their efforts to convince us that their deal was the best we could get, and to rush us into accepting it without showing the full contract, we held firm. This is because we are fighting not just for ourselves, but for our families, for all workers and for future generations.

The eyes of the world are now on us, and we are in a strong position to fight and win our demands. Deere has struggled to hire and fill orders, and it needs our labor power more than ever. And if we wage a determined struggle, we have the support of workers throughout the US and around the world.

Now is the time for us to fight to win!

However, the UAW throughout this entire process has proceeded from the opposite standpoint. They act as if the company is God, they’re its priests, and we only deserve what it is willing to bestow. To win our fight, however, we must act now to form our own organizations, rank-and-file committees, to carry out a real struggle.

The statement from “Solidarity House” last night shows the UAW is doubling down on its strategy and is plotting its next move together with the company. In just three sentences announcing our rejection of their deal, the UAW public relations team wrote, “By a vote of 45% yes to 55% no, UAW John Deere members voted down the agreement this evening. The strike against John Deere and Company will continue as we discuss next steps with the company. Pickets will continue and any updates will be provided through the local union.”

Excuse us, Messieurs Curry and Browning, discuss next steps with the company? Clearly it never occurred to you to discuss next steps with us workers, whom you take dues from and claim to represent.

But from the beginning, the UAW bureaucrats haven’t listened to what we want. They pulled the mic on our brother in Waterloo who told them what he thought of their sellout yesterday, and they had the gall to tell our brothers and sisters at Harvester that they didn’t want to hear any “nasty comments” about the contract.

The UAW says that “any updates will be provided.” Clearly, they plan to continue what they’ve been doing all year: keep workers in the dark on what they’re actually discussing with the company, while working out plans to try to get another deal through, as quickly as possible, which doesn’t meet our demands.

Every Deere worker should study what happened to our brothers and sisters at Volvo Trucks earlier this year, which shows one type of betrayal the union bureaucracy could be preparing.

The UAW—with Ray Curry in the lead—brought back three concessions contracts that workers voted down, the first two times by over 90 percent. After the third contract was rejected by 60 percent, the UAW forced workers to re-vote on the exact same agreement less than a week later, telling them the company would unilaterally implement it no matter which way they voted. Even still, many Volvo workers defied this blackmail, and the UAW claimed the contract passed by just 17 votes, refusing to respond to calls for a recount.

We won an important battle yesterday. But to win the war, we must press our offensive. We can’t allow Deere and the UAW any time to regroup and attempt to force through the same deal, or something largely similar with one or two cosmetic “sweeteners” thrown in.

The Deere Workers Rank-and-File Committee demands the following:

1. Strike pay must be raised to workers’ full income. It is criminal for the UAW to starve us on just $275 a week when they have hundreds of millions in the bank from our dues. The low level of strike pay is designed to weaken our resolve, and many more workers would have voted to reject the contract yesterday if they were being provided the resources necessary to hold out.

2. The secrecy surrounding the UAW’s talks with the company must end. All talks between the company and union officials must be opened up to representatives from each plant elected by the rank-and-file. Moreover, any new contract proposal must be provided in full with a week for workers to study and discuss it.

3. Reinforcements must be mobilized in the auto and heavy equipment industries. Our brothers and sisters at Caterpillar, at CNH, at Volvo and Mack, and in the auto and auto parts industries face the same conditions. Workers at these companies are following our struggle closely, including at Dana, the parts company where the UAW just pushed through a sellout agreement, and at Deere operations globally, including in Germany.

We must appeal to workers at all of these companies and those who work at Deere’s suppliers: Our fight is your fight! Prepare solidarity actions to strengthen all of our struggles.

4. No end to the strike until there is a contract that meets workers’ basic demands. The Deere Workers Rank-and-File Committee puts forth the following minimum demands for any agreement:

  • Full health care benefits for retirees: This is a red line: Without health coverage in retirement, we face the threat of poverty in our old age after giving decades of our lives to the company, with our pensions and retirement income completely eaten up by skyrocketing health care costs and inflation.

  • Raises large enough to make up for years of cuts and freezes: A $10 wage increase up front, 5 percent per year after that, as well as COLA to protect against inflation. If Deere has the money for a 160 percent raise for its CEO and over a billion a year in dividends for its investors, then they have the money to provide us much higher wages.

  • Only 30 days’ probation for new hires: The current seven-month probation period is virtual indentured servitude, designed to intimidate new hires. Full rights and health insurance should be instated after just 30 days.

  • Pensions available for all workers: The UAW claimed the company retreated from its demand to end pensions for new hires and create a new tier, but the devil is in the details, which are never in the UAW’s “highlights.” Pensions and a secure retirement must be made available to all workers, including the next generation.

  • An end to relentless speed-up and mandatory overtime: We must have adequate time to spend with our families, and a pace at work that doesn’t leave our bodies broken.

  • A two-year contract: A six-year contract, more than 15 percent of our working lives, benefits the company, which wants to lock us into terms with limits on labor costs for as long as possible.

After 2015 and the two contracts which have been rejected, we have to recognize that the UAW is not acting in our interests. We must have organizations that are accountable to us, that represent us, that speak for us.

We urge workers at every Deere plant and warehouse: Form rank-and-file strike committees of your own and link up with ours! Such committees will provide the critical means for workers to communicate and share information across the plants, make connections with workers at other companies and Deere workers in other countries, and develop a unified strategy, so that we can act with one voice.

To sit back and wait guarantees defeat. Deere and the UAW are “discussing their next steps.” We, the rank-and-file workers of Deere, must organize, plan and take our next steps.

To those who voted yes on the last agreement, whether because of financial pressure or other reasons: we are still fighting alongside you and our bonds of solidarity remain unbroken. The company and the UAW want nothing more than to see us grow divided, which they would seek to take every advantage of.

Unity is more important than ever. Let us seize the opportunity and continue to press ahead for a victory that meets the needs of all workers!

Also check out:

The contract rejection is the latest major repudiation by workers of the pro-corporate policies pursued by the UAW and other trade unions for over 40 years.

Marcus Day19 hours ago

Now is the time for Dana workers to join Deere workers and all auto workers to overturn the fraudulent contracts signed by the UAW in recent months and years.

Dana Workers' Rank-and-File Committee2 hours ago

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Wednesday:

Wednesday, November 3, 2021.  A Virginia election should sound a warning, in Iraq vote counting continues.

Starting in the US where a much watched race for governor was decided at the polls yesterday.  Jake Johnson (COMMON DREAMS) writes:

After Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe—a conservative whose campaign was flush with billionaire cash—fell to Republican private equity mogul Glenn Youngkin in Virginia's closely watched gubernatorial race on Tuesday, establishment Democrats wasted no time pinning the blame on progressives.

The finger-pointing started days before the polls opened in Virginia, a state that has trended blue in recent years and that President Joe Biden won by 10 percentage points in 2020.

Several conservative Democrats, including Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana, suggested leading up to the contest that progressive lawmakers' refusal to allow a bipartisan infrastructure bill to pass the House without simultaneous approval of a broader reconciliation package could be at least partially to blame for a McAuliffe loss.

"I've got to tell you, in Virginia, where we've got a gubernatorial race tomorrow, that would have really helped Terry McAuliffe a lot if we had been able to notch that win," Warner—who, like McAuliffe, previously served as Virginia's governor—said in an appearance on MSNBC, referencing Democrats' inability to secure an infrastructure vote last week amid progressive opposition.

I've got to tell you, in Virginia or anywhere else, what could have helped Terry McAuliffe the most was a personality transplant.

A non-descript and out of touch man who offered nothing of value.  

Near the end of the race, he started talking about . . . race.    50% of students, he proclaimed, were people of color but 80% of teachers were White-Anglo.  

Where does he get his figures?  Most recent statistics place the number of White-Anglos in Virginia at 67.6% and the most recent estimate is 69.4%.

Wait, wait, he's talking about schools and their percentages and --

Which is the mistake.  He's the last one to talk about schools.  He looked like the hypocrite he was on the campaign trail talking about public schools and praising them while he sends all of his children to private schools.

Schools were never going to be a winning issue for Terry because he couldn't explain publicly why, if he believed so strongly in public schools, he didn't send his own kids to them.

And race?

If anyone should have lost it was Terry.  If we're talking scales of justice, the loser should have been Terry.

Last week, as the campaign was winding down, White nationalists/KKK-ers showed up at his opponents rally and his campaign and various Democrats (Eric Sewall) condemned the supporters and the candidate.  

But they weren't really supporting his opponent and they weren't what they self-presented.  They were paid performers.  Paid by The Lincoln Project.  In their effort to elect Terry, The Lincoln Project perpetuated a hoax.  They lied to voters.

After they got exposed, they come up with some b.s. about performance theater and how they were making a point.

The only point that they made was that Terry's campaign would lie about and exploit race.

Terry's campaign?

Yes.  He needed to get his fat ass in front of microphone and loudly denounce those actions.  If he had, he might have done better in the polls.  Leaving it to a minor campaign underling to 'decry' what The Lincoln Project did was not enough.

He was the candidate.

The voters were lied to and it was a planned effort to trick them.  

Terry probably wasn't involved in it and probably only found out it was fake when everyone else did.  That doesn't change the fact that he had an obligation to denounce what The Lincoln Project did.

There are certain basics that we expect and that's one of them.  If he believes in the voters and the voting process, he owed it to everyone to loudly denounce The Lincoln' Project's actions.

It was a vicious smear of another candidate, yes.  More to the point, beyond this election, it was an attempt to exploit very real concerns over racial justice and, in doing so, increase tensions around this issue.  

The Lincoln Project insulted anyone who believes in racial justice.

Their action was outrageous and Terry should have been on the news of every broadcast saying, "We're better than that in Virginia."  Instead, it was send out an underling and hope I can still benefit from it and win the election.

Terry may have still lost but he would have looked like someone who had ethics.

Chances are he would have lost regardless.

We've noted here what the reality is for the country and the do-nothing Democrats in Congress better wake up.  

Christmas is approaching.  Do they speak to anyone who's not a millionaire?  Excuse me, do they speak to anyone who's either not a millionaire or on their payroll?

Doesn't appear so.  

For months now, in the Zooms we've been doing,  we've heard about how people are being effected.  That's healthcare.  That's everything.  And it matters even more right now because the holidays are approaching.  The economy is out of control.  Gas prices are too high, food prices have risen.  We have no UBI (Universal Basic Income).  We have no stimulus checks.  What the American people got under Donald Trump wasn't much but as parents scale back, for example, Christmas, you bettter believe that the money from Trump's administration will be remembered.  (And don't talk about Joe's check.  First off, it was supposed to be delivered under Donald but Nancy Pelosi delayed it and we all know that story, second, Joe ensured that some didn't get the check or get all of it by allowing various entities to withold from those checks.)

Nancy knows where to buy her pricey ice cream, she just doens't shop with regular people.  

Gas is up a little?  Tell it to the woman we spoke with last week, a single-mother in Louisiana who takes a cab to her morning classes because she can't take the bus in the morning (it doesn't deliver to her campus early enough).  So after Joe became president, instead of raising the official price due to rising gas prices, they tacked on a surcharge of $1.50 and then, two weeks ago, they tacked on another $1.50 surcharge.  Since Joe Biden has been sworn in, her morning commute to campus costs her $3.00 more a day, five days a week.  That's $15 more a week, $60 more a month.  

This is the sort of thing that real people are dealing with and the Congress shows no acknowledgement of that.

I've said all along that the pandemic is not over -- comments echoed by the World Health Organization this week.  And I've also made the point that if it's so important that people get vaccinated, it's just as important that the government takes care of them.

"We feed them!" Nancy blustered on CNN and it's her most often quoted remark in Zooms.  Every one knows the remark and everyone knows that it's not true.  Everyone outside the millionaire class is suffering.  You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows?  Bob Dylan wrote that line and Bernardine Dohrn and others were so impressed that they used it to name The Weather Underground.  But Nancy can't stick her finger in the air to see which way the wind's blowing when she's forever got that finger up her ass.

When the money's gone?  For some, that day has already arrived in this country.  For many more, their fear is that it's around the corner.  And Congress and the White House?  They do nothing to alleviate these fears, these very real fears.

And We The People are noticing.  Get back to work, get your shots and get back to work.  But the pandemic is still here.  There's no concern for safety.  Nor do the vaccines prevent you from getting COVID, as Jen Psaki's demonstrated to the nation.  Young, healthy and vaccinated.  She still got it.  Supposedly while taking all precautions.

There is no leadership and there's no real concern for the American people  If I were an incumbent of either party running for re-election in 2022, I'd be worried, very worried.  

Pete Buttigieg has every right to take paternity leave.  But there's something to be said about setting the tone.  He took an appointment in the administration to serve the American people.  Was paternity leave really needed for him in a time of crisis?  As we have people being warned that Thanksgiving items may not be available and as we can already see certain items not on the grocery shelves or on the menu because of problems in the supply line should the Secretary of Transportation being taking weeks off for paternity leave.

And I'm really offended by this topic because I know for a fact that if Pete was  Patricia and she was taking weeks off, some idiot would be saying that proved women couldn't serve in public office.

Tucker made a stupid remark (that, again, seemed like it was really Tucker Carlson's secret wish) but that doesn't mean a conversation should not have taken place.  Is Joe, as president, entitled to paternity leave?  Is he able to take weeks off?  

We're in an emergency situation, a pandemic, and the country didn't have the Secretary of Transportation overseeing the department and now there are supply issues.  It was a dumb move.

There are first responders who have already sacrificed so much.  There's our own Trina who until the last few weeks was still pulling her clinic duties as a nurse and, on the weekends, having to work in the hospital.  Not because she needed money but because of shortages.  Even now, a 40 hour paid work week would be a dream for Trina.  But she's still having to give evenings to a second shift during the week.  She's a nurse.  You're telling me that the on-salary Secretary of Transportation isn't expected to make certain sacrifices. 

A new baby?  Okay, let's try a reduced work week for the Secretary.  But weeks of leave?  During the pandemic?  It looks out of touch.  And it looks that way because it is that way.

We The People are living in a very different world than their elected officials.  The Democrats ran in 2020 promising damn little.  They thought all they had to do was say "Trump" over and over.  They haven't delivered what little they promised and things are worse economically for Americans than they were when Donald was in the White House.  

That should be very worrying to the Democratic Party.

I guess they could, as a victory strategy, try setting up Donald Trump to be the GOP nominee in 2024.  I guess they could try that.  But they might want to first ask Hillary Clinton and her campaign how that worked out for them in 2016?

Iraq held an election last month, the worst turnout since the 2003-invasion.  Despite the election being held October 10th, they're still waiting on the final official tally of votes.  Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) reports

More than three weeks after Iraqis voted in parliament elections, pro-Iran Shiite militias that emerged as the biggest losers are still rejecting the outcome of the vote, thrusting the country into uncertainty and political crisis.

Militia supporters have pitched tents near the entrance to Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone in an ongoing sit-in, threatening violence unless their grievances are addressed.

The unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud are casting a shadow over an election that was praised by the United States, the U.N. Security Council and others for being the smoothest in years and without major technical glitches. The standoff is also increasing tensions among rival Shiite factions that could reflect on the street and threaten Iraq’s newfound relative stability.

Meanwhile, THE NEW ARAB notes a new claim that politicians are being poisoned:

Iraqi authorities are investigating three cases of poisoning of political figures in the country, after a leader of a Kurdish party claimed on Tuesday that he was subjected to an assassination plot.

Mala Bakhtiar, who heads the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), claimed an assassination attempt against him was carried out by "comrades" in his own party. He claims there have been numerous attempts to end his life.

Bakhtiar had to be transported to Germany last week after being poisoned but is now in stable condition. He was a presidential candidate in 2018.

Hours after falling ill, Wasta Hassan Nuri, a PUK member and former director of the Asayish - the leading security and intelligence agency in the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region -was also poisoned.

His condition has also stabilised.

Lawmaker Yasser Al-Husseini from southern Iraq’s Babil governorate was also reportedly poisoned. He won a seat in the recent parliamentary elections and his son died as a result of the poisoning.

It is not a claim, it's the truth, that activists and journalists have been murdered in Iraq.  Yesterday's snapshot noted the conviction of police officer Hamza Kadhim al-Aidani for the murders of journalists Ahmed Abdul Samad and Safaa Ghali.  Now Layal Shakir (RUDAW) reports:

An Iraqi court on Monday handed a death sentence to a man accused of killing a TV crew during the nationwide anti-government protests that broke out across Iraq in late 2019. Dozens of activists and journalists were murdered in the protests.

The Criminal Court of Basra issued a death sentence for the alleged killer of journalist Ahmad Abd al-Samad and photographer Safaa Ghali, reported state media.

Dijlah reporter Samad and his cameraman Ghali were shot dead whilst covering the Tishreen (October) protests in the southern port city of Basra last year.

Protests broke out in central and southern Iraq in late 2019, calling for an end to corruption, unemployment, and the provision of basic services. Since then, journalists and activists have been a target of militias and armed forces that operate with impunity.

Note that yet again, the court is not releasing the name of the person convicted of murder.  

Hassan Ali Ahmed (AL-MONITOR) covers the the case of the two journalists noting:

Aidani confessed to being the driver in the death squad responsible for killing Abdessamad. He said the squad also consisted of Ahmad Twaisia as the team leader, Abbas Hashim to track the victim and shooter Ahmad Abdul-Karim. Aqeel Hadi, another member of this squad, was allegedly responsible for killing Mujtaba Ahmad, a 14-year-old protester in Basra. 

Only Aidani and Hadi have been arrested. The other members remain at large and have yet to be prosecuted.

Twaisia was officially affiliated with Katai’b Hezbollah (KH). His photo beside late Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and current leader of the PMU parliamentary bloc Hadi al-Amiri has circulated in social media.

A source in criminal court informed Al-Monitor that Aidani confessed that the squad received their orders from their superiors in KH to systematically target and kill activists, journalists and also members of Iraqi security forces. The superiors convinced their followers that the orders were fatwas issued by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. 

The members of the squad worked inside different security forces institutes, using their positions and relations to carry out their operations. 


The following sites updated: