By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Let’s start with the press. In olden times, newspapers used to have a labor beat. Somewhere near the beginning of the neoliberal dispensation, labor coverage got folded into the Business Section and then more or less vanished. Today, there’s not an awful lot of labor reporting going on: Kim Kelly (@GrimKim), late of Teen Vogue, Jonah Furman (@JonahFurman) of Labor Notes and Who Gets the Bird, Michael Sainato (@msainat1) at the Guardian, and Mike Elk (@MikeElk) of PayDay Report seem to be about it. (Whether accidentally or on purpose, the Americans seem to have divved up the coverage: Kelly was the goto for Warrior Met, Elk for IATSSE, and Furman for John Deere, which is the topic of this post.
Most of the coverage of the John Deere strike replicates this story from Associated Press (AP): “Deere & Co. workers go on strike after rejecting contract,” which begins:
More than 10,000 Deere & Co. workers went on strike Thursday, the first major walkout at the agricultural machinery giant in more than three decades.
I don’t blame TV station after TV station, and newspaper after newspaper, for using a wire service for coverage; but I do blame the brain geniuses at Google for treating the same wire service story as a separate hit, time after time after time. Couldn’t they figure out a way to collapse the dupes, so I could actually find stuff? Be that as it may, AP has now set up a topic page or “hub” for strikes:
(The first entry is from July 22, 2021.) So, I would say a clear indication that there are more strikes to come, since AP is gearing up to cover them. However, the strike before us today is the UAW’s John Deer strike. First, I’ll look at John Deere as a business, insofar as that’s relevant to the strike. Then, I’ll look at the contract dispute that led to the strike. Next, I’ll look at the correlation of forces between labor and management, in the context of “StrikeTober,” a phrase our silly media has made up. I’ll conclude with a few mutterings on the zeitgeist.
John Deere the Business
First, we may think of Deere’s yellow and green tractors as made exclusively in the heartland, but that’s not correct. From Machine Finder:
Below is a list of factories that produce American-made John Deere tractors:
Augusta, Georgia, United States: Compact utility and utility tractors
Waterloo, Iowa, United States: Ag tractors
Greeneville, Tennessee, United States: Lawn and garden tractors
Horicon, Wisconsin, United States: Lawn and garden tractors
Deere also does significant international manufacturing. So far as I know, Deere has not been able to replicate Boeing’s success in wrecking its union operation by shifting production to a non-union state, but management shifting production — and probably more importantly in the short term, parts and repairs — is at least worth speculating about.
Second, while Deere is not exactly a financial services operation with a factory attached, it does make a lot of its money that way. From Investopedia:
The company’s three major segments are agriculture and turf; construction and forestry; and the unexpected wildcard, financial services. Really? Indeed. Deere & Co. discovered that it could make almost as much money financing its products as selling them. It isn’t the first vehicle company to figure this out, either. General Motors Co. (GM) created GMAC, the General Motors Acceptance Corp. (now Ally Financial [ALLY]) for similar reasons.
A chart from Deere’s most recent annual report makes this clear:
So, I would guess that a strike will fail to affect about a third of Deere’s profits. (I mean, even if Deere can’t repair tractors in the field, that won’t stop it from collecting rent on the tractor, whether it works or not.) I don’t know if this will affect Deere’s ability to hold out longer, or not.
The Contract Dispute
As with Warrior Met, Deere workers have built uo a head of justified resentment against the last constract, and saw the Tentative Agreement as more of the same. From the Guardian:
David Schmelzer, a quality control inspector at John Deere in Milan, Illinois for 24 years and former chairman of UAW Local 79, said that in 1997 workers took several concessions from John Deere in contract negotiations at the time, which included creating a two-tier system of employees, with workers hired after 1997 receiving fewer benefits.
“We sacrificed, and we want that back now,” said Schmelzer. During the pandemic, Schmelzer said workers have been forced to work overtime consistently, with 10- to 12-hour days through the week and Saturdays.
Through that time, John Deere has reported record profits in 2021, with a $4.7bn profit in the first three quarters of this year, compared to their previous record profit year of $3.5bn in 2013. The company spent over $1.7bn on stock buybacks in the first nine months and paid out $761m in dividends to shareholders.
“A lot of what’s been going on in the country over the last couple of years has definitely made people more aware of the disparity between corporate and income inequality. Just massive amounts of corporate greed,” added Schmelzer. “The majority of people want a bigger share of the success of this company, the success that we’ve been a major part of.”
And here we are. From Modern Farmer:
So, what exactly are they fighting for?
Aaron Gregg at the Washington Post reports that the workers are seeking increased wages, improved retirement plans and better benefits. Deere’s profits spiked during the pandemic; the company’s third-quarter profits in 2021 were nearly double that of the quarter a year prior. The company offered raises of around five to six percent, but it seems that it’s the retirement and other benefit packages that are the real sticking points.
This point on the (evil) two-tier pension system is important:
Labor reporter Jonah Furman reports that one major issue is Deere’s proposed two-tiered pension system, in which workers hired prior to 1997 receive three times the pension of more recent hires, and those hired after November 1 of this year would receive no pension at all. Workers in these plants are often multi-generational, and they see their own benefits becoming drastically lower than those of their parents, all while Deere shows record profits.
The Daily Mail brings in the class warfare aspect most American newspapers are too genteel to mention. First, remember “essential workers”?
Some employees have told the Des Moines Register that they felt the company owed them better wages after they worked through the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Second, CEO pay:
Workers are angry that Deere CEO John May, who earned nearly $16 million in his first year in the role last year, makes 220 times more than the median company salary of $70,743. [May’s salary was] up from $6 million the year before, based on the company’s financial performance.
Finally, it sounds like the shop floor at Deere is extremely unpleasant. The Guardian once more:
“This goes beyond numbers. It’s just as much about how people are treated,” said a John Deere employee in Illinois who requested to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation. “Respect from management no longer exists. You can feel the tension in the air. Everybody has been on edge for quite some time. Nearly every day, I would lift my weld hood up to hear employees and managers screaming at each other. They have put highly paid managers on certain operators to watch them and just bird dog them all day.”
The Correlation of Forces
Let’s look at labor’s leverage, management’s leverage, and the equivocal role played by the UAW. First, labor. From the New York Times:
“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.
As I read it, most of labor’s advantage comes from timing, on multiple levels.
1) Labor market timing. From AP:
Creighton University economist Ernie Goss said workers have a lot of leverage to bargain with right now because of the ongoing worker shortages.
“Right now across the US, labor is in a very good strong position to bargain, so now is a good time to strike,” Goss said.
Earlier this year, another group of UAW-represented workers went on strike at a Volvo Trucks plant in Virginia and wound up with better pay and lower-cost health benefits after rejecting three tentative contract offers.
Next, and particular to Deere:
2) Harvesting timing. From Bloomberg:
The timing of the strike is also significant. It’s coming in the middle of the North American harvest. While that is a period of weaker production for Deere, it could disrupt the harvest if farmers experience equipment breakdowns and Deere is unable to respond speedily. A work stoppage beyond a few days may make it tougher to get hold of replacement parts if equipment breaks during the harvest, according to Brian Strasser, a manager at Sinclair Tractor in Kalona, Iowa.
(Note that John Deere viciously engineers its machines so that “owners” have no right to repair, so the farmer can’t repair the tractor themselves. Only Deere can.)
3) Manufacturing timing.
"…and managers who have never held a wrench in their lives will be trying to weld assemblies. I'll be trying to find out which serial number ranges are built in that time, so I can tell farmers I know which machines to avoid."
— Jonah Furman (@JonahFurman) October 14, 2021
Of course, Deere can always try to hire scabs, but it sounds, again, like Boeing is far ahead of Deere in deskilling its workforce.)
4) Supply chain timing. From AP:
[Iowa State University economist Dave Swenson] said the impact of the strike could spread further if companies that supply Deere factories have to begin laying off workers. So Deere will face pressure from suppliers and from customers who need parts for their Deere equipment to settle the strike quickly. And Swenson said Deere will be worried about losing market share if farmers decide to buy from other companies this fall.
“There is going to be a lot of pressure on Deere to move closer to the union’s demands,” Swenson said.
Turning to management, they seem to hope to keep the lights on with the salaried employees. Dubious:
Yet another salaried Deere employee has reached out. Here's his comment on the idea of white collar and other employees keeping the plants running through the strike, working under "new titles." pic.twitter.com/GrFS8FdlEt
— Jonah Furman (@JonahFurman) October 14, 2021
Fascinating to see reporters working sources in real time on the Twitter; that’s one thing Twitter really is good for. Another example:
I wouldn’t buy a tractor made from October until 2 months after we come back to work. Lol
— Douglas Davies (@dadscad) October 13, 2021
Getting manufacturing up and running with a retrained white collar workforce seems like a hare-brained scheme to me. It’s hard for me to believe that Deere’s hand is that weak….
Now let’s take a quick look at the UAW, with whom the workers have trust issues, and rightly:
A Deere worker asked me to share this statement anonymously.
It really gets to the frustration the membership have been feeling, towards both Deere and the UAW bargaining committee, and how this has built up to this point. pic.twitter.com/bl3SFS2fL9
— Jonah Furman (@JonahFurman) October 14, 2021
At this point we recall that the UAW bargaining committee came up with a Tentative Agreement that 90% of the workers rejected, so they must be completely out of touch. We also recall headlines like Second UAW president sentenced to 28 months in prison in union corruption probe. 
It seems that there are rather a lot of strikes just now. Here some labor maves try to make a list:
So what is #Striketober?
We now have strike authorizations at John Deere (strike deadline tonight), IATSE/Hollywood (deadline Oct. 18) and Kaiser Permanente (deadline TBD).
That’s around *90,000 workers* right there. Those are the kind of numbers you don't see anymore.
— Dave Jamieson (@jamieson) October 13, 2021
But wait! There’s more!
And @CWAUnion @CWADistrict1 2000 nurses on strike and @CWAUnion @CWADistrict9 has 2000 telecom workers in California with a 93% strike authorization.
— Thomas H (@ltsPara) October 13, 2021
1400 Kellogg's, 1,000 miners, 700 MA nurses, 700 already out at Kaiser, 400 some steelworkers in West Virginia, 400 whiskey makers in KY, 200 Reno bus driver Teamsters… more I'm forgetting!
— Jonah Furman (@JonahFurman) October 13, 2021
Robert Reich asks Is America experiencing an unofficial general strike?
The media failed to report the big story, which is actually a very good one: American workers are now flexing their muscles for the first time in decades.
You might say workers have declared a national general strike until they get better pay and improved working conditions.
No one calls it a general strike. But in its own disorganized way it’s related to the organized strikes breaking out across the land – Hollywood TV and film crews, John Deere workers, Alabama coal miners, Nabisco workers, Kellogg workers, nurses in California, healthcare workers in Buffalo.
Good to see the Democrat national leadership stepping up to the plate and showing solidarity. Oh, wait…
Profits at John Deere have skyrocketed by some 61% in recent years, while its CEO's salary has exploded by 160% since the start of the pandemic. Please do not tell me they cannot afford to pay their workers fairly. I am proud to stand in solidarity with @UAW members on strike.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) October 14, 2021
Ottumwa painter Laursen, from the Des Moines Register:
“The whole nation’s going to be watching us,” Laursen, the Ottumwa plant employee, told the Register on Monday. “If we take a stand here for ourselves, our families, for basic human prosperity, it’s going to make a difference for the whole manufacturing industry. Let’s do it. Let’s not be intimidated.”
I agree, especially if by “the whole manufacturing industry” we mean “the world’s manufacturing industry.” This is, after all, the belly of the beast, and everybody knows it. Readers, any labor action where you are?
 Laursen is an interesting figure; see this story in the Des Moines Register. I believe Gramsci would have called him an “organic intellectual.” A painter from Ottumwa who’s managed to get himself into a lot of reporters’ contact lists.
 Properly labor power market, since labor is not alienable, but what of that.
 That level of betrayal is why Big Labor feels so comfortable with the Democrat Party, I suppose.
 Here is a reply to Sanders:
Bernie, a new union (@PaizoWorkers) was formed today at one of the nation's most famous tabletop gaming companies. They're working with the @CWAUnion to gain recognition from management. A shout-out would be much appreciated I'm sure! #UnionizePaizo
— Jeremy (@11JustBreathe11) October 14, 2021
Solidarity with the workers at Deere. And I have to say I love that labor is flexing it’s collective muscle. It’s about damn time.
Larry: As someone who grew up in the Great Lakes States, where Deere is a presence, I can only add: Solidarity.
The workers at Deere deserve better, and the management there knows the only too well.
Guess we shall see if the cynics at WSWS are right about IATSE. Which is to say WSWS thinks union management will find a way to fold.
Odds are they will. DiTolla’s hideous legacy was only expanded by Loeb. They could be that stupid. But there is still a but here.
There has been growing dissension in the ranks. Leadership managed to push back on an outright rebellion a few years ago, but that didn’t stop the ever increasing realization that things were badly deteriorating. And leadership decisions over the course of the whole shift to streaming have repeatedly been shown to have been terrible and self serving. There is a better chance of a John Deere rebellion if they do sell out than at any time in my memory.
Not saying membership won’t fall in line, but for once I do not think it is a given.
Aside from some engineers and managers who worked on the shop floor, how many salaried will be useful? And even among them, I’d guess critical skills with current certifications like forklift operator are very rare.
As for the workers, what can we do to help support them?
– Not cross picket lines
– I’ve donated to Payday Report
– Write to my local Congress critters, but not sure about what
If the workers at the struck plants have a strike survival fund with a place to donate to, one could donate money to the striking Deere-plant workers’s strike survival fund. If a few hundred people do it, it is a lovely gesture. If a few thousand do it, it is a meaningful gesture. If a few hundred thousand do it, it becomes actual amunition to keep the workers bunkered up and attack-resistant on the field of economic combat, where every dollar is a bullet.
If Sanders and his cadres of local commanders in the field have kept their movement of several million people together in some form, perhaps he and they could organize and motivate this supporter base to send a few million donations to the Deere Strikers strike survival fund. If the strikers even have a fund with an address where money can be sent.
> If Sanders and his cadres of local commanders in the field have kept their movement of several million people together in some form
As I said at the time.
Another reminder of what a disappointment Sanders was in the end.
In 2019, could anyone have predicted that Sanders would have stopped demanding Medicare for All once a pandemic began? Think about how ridiculous that is to immediately curb your list of demands in a crisis, when people need it most!
Here is an interesting exchange between a worker and a bosser with the names redacted, to show how more workers are reaching the individual realization that enough “other jobs” are findable just now that they don’t have to take the mean spiteful abuse which so many in the sadistomanager class feel they have the class right to dish out. Here is the link.
Larry, 2% of salaried employees would be useful on the shop floor, at most.
You can’t bone up on the manual overnight and operate the machinery safely and effectively the next day, or the next week for that matter.
They are building modern tractors, these are not simple machines.
That’s not so accurate. A lot of modern machinery is pretty easy to operate. While one day to the next is a bit aggressive, my former firm routinely hired highly inexperienced workers and got most near full productivity in a week. Maintenance of these machines can be a bigger obstacle. The “deskilling” discussed in the article is real and associated with modern machines, but harder to fully implement for products with lots of fabrication as opposed to assembly. Minimal welding is done to airplanes during production, for example. Where you see welds is nearly always in sourced components that are assembly work at the airplane manufacturer. “Deskilling” is kind of at the heart of many tensions. Workers point out that “their” productivity has gone up far faster than wages. True, but it turns out that well-thought out “deskilling” usually is quite productive as having people do complicated stuff is where mistakes really increase. You might consider yourself really productive, but if lots of other people can reach your productivity in a week or so, your leverage to negotiate is constrained. So picking favorable circumstances for labor action is hugely important.
“So picking favorable circumstances for labor action is hugely important.”
I think two elements, “what” gets negotiated and “how” you negotiate is hugely important and could use a dose of creativity.
An important negotiating tool/tactic that doesn’t get used nearly enough by labor is the element of surprise. Just strike out of nowhere, for no reason, just to send a message which terrorizes management. Imagine the effect on management of walking in on a Monday morning and snarfing their coffee on their computer screen when they find out about a random strike about a contract negotiation that wasn’t supposed to start for at least 6-12 months.
Think of that being a way to say, “Hey mgt, it’s time to sit down, here’s our opening bid: ‘eat a 1 month shutdown’. What would you like to counter with?”
Also, perhaps this is too ambitious, but unions should also push for an end to stock buy backs. I think it’s important to negotiate not just your own working conditions, but those of management, too. Management has lots of ideas on what workers get up to day-to-day, workers should should express their opinions on how managers do their jobs, too.
I always think that stock buy-backs are what you do when every other spending need that the corporation has has been satisfied. Everyone has great pay and health and other benefits, operations are well-staffed, all facilities are up-to-date and well-maintained, pension funds are fully funded, and everyone is walking around with a smile on their face. Basically, no one can think of anything else about the operation that is lacking for money. Then, you might use whatever profits are left over to buy back your own stock. Stock buy-backs are an admission that after wracking your brains, you can’t think of anything else to put the money into.
This is the underlying premise of capitalism, for God’s sake, that the operation’s profits are reinvested into the operation, creating a virtuous cycle.
Actually, stock buy-backs are a boast of not caring about the hundreds of areas within the corporation screaming for investment or re-investment of money ongoingly made by the corporation. They are a form of legalized insider-looting, made legal by certain tax changes which I believe I read about being made law during the Reagan Administration, and no doubt more such in later Administrations.
So perhaps repealing all the relevant laws and de-writing all the relevant regulations could vaporise the artificial incentives that were created for stock buy-backs. And leveraged buy-outs. And other such.
If Unions could entrench their own survival beyond any opponent’s hope of attack, maybe Unions can use that entrenched position as a fortress from which to conduct various ” good government” raids like a push to repeal the above-mentioned laws and rules.
Also, what if the Deere Union became so powerful that it could force John Deere to recognize a Total Right To Repair on the part of every owner of every Deere machine?
That might earn the Union a lot of friends and supporters outside the Union movement.
Just a thought . . .
It’s like everything John Deere has done to increase its stock price is now a liability. Squeezing it’s workers by cutting their wages and benefits so the company is no longer competitive in the labor market causing a labor shortage. (And no those poor salary workers won’t be building machines because who will do their job while they are doing the wage workers job.)
Outsourcing any job they could so now they are at the mercy of their suppliers and the accompanying supply chain disaster leading to delays and incomplete machines.
Lean manufacturing that only served to eliminate any hope of adapting to changing circumstances. Because extra space and extra time is considered waste the factories are set up to produce a certain number of machines per day.
From the tweet above the start date is November 15th because any later than that and orders will have to be canceled. For example even working 24 hours a day the factory can only produce 50 machines per day so they can’t restart in January and build 65 machines a day to catch up.
Add in the highly cyclical nature of the ag industry which is in an up cycle so John Deere needs to sell as much machinery right now all of which has led to the workers having leverage during contract negotiations for the first time in a generation.
We all collectively realize that if we are ever going to fight to improve the conditions for ourselves and future workers it’s now or never. And it was pretty clearly communicated to UAW International we are willing to strike and sacrifice to get what we deserve and if they are unable to be as committed as we are then they could go back to Detroit and we’ll negotiate ourselves.
Anyway I’ve got picket duty next week.
If it is not impolite or intrusive to even ask such a question . . . is there a striker-support fund for your group of striking Deere workers? If there is, would money-donations to it from outsiders and non-members be welcomed? If such donations would be welcomed, is there a place with an address to send the money?
Thanks for asking but since we haven’t striked in 35 years our strike fund is well funded. Also due to supply chain issues, labor shortages from an inability to hire enough workers and COVID-19 rules we have been working 50-60 hours per week since this spring. It was well understood on the shop floor that everyone should be stocking away their extra overtime earnings in their own individual strike funds. In the worst case scenario we can also find employment because everyone is hiring oftentimes at the same pay level as Deere. Hell I can even stock the beer cooler the local gas station for $15 an hour if needed.
If anyone is wanting to help the cause just voice your support for us by commenting on articles and sharing your opinions on social media.
Thank you for taking the time to answer some nameless nobody on the web. It is good that you-all are prepared with a deep cushion of survival money. If the Deere plans to hold out longer than your money does as a way to starve you into submission, such that you-all need to post a place where to send donations, this might be as good a place as any to post it.
Meanwhile, we will do what you suggest.
> Anyway I’ve got picket duty next week.
Truly, the Naked Capitalism commentariat is the best commentariat. Please keep us posted!
Solidarity. You Deere line people “get” it.
America is ruled today by a self-indulgent and kleptocratic oligarchy, thanks to the perverse “free-market” ideology promoted by Ronald Reagan and his equally-addled stepchild Slick-Willie Clinton.
My neighbor’s prosperity is my prosperity; there is such a thing as “enough” in a democracy.
I was a little surprised you didn’t mention Payday Report as the most reliable current source of strike news. I confess I haven’t been following them regularly, but they’ve been reporting an awful lot of labor activism this year, and it’s the most hopeful sign since the ’90s. I’ve also been surprised and pleased that some of the media seem not to be hostile to the unions this time. Yet.
There is a link to Payday Report in paragraph one. I follow all the accounts listed, and I think they are all reliable. (I also added Who Gets the Bird from Furman, a labor round-up I missed in the first draft.)
More sources welcome!
So it begins.
Here comes 1970 inflation.
Brace for impact.
Well . . . you have just made a prediction.
And we will see what you know.
Is that you? University of Chicago Booth biz school and M.B.A. truisms?
Some counterarguments. The article is five years old, and I don’t see that anything has budged much in the last five years, except for greater income inequality and more obvious class oppression.
Oh wow, another prediction of stagflation. Libertarian’s have been constantly making this prediction for decades, but only on days ending in “y”.
Excellent coverage this. Can’t shake the feeling that all these strikes were somehow seeded by those teacher’s strikes last year though but good on those John Deere workers. Management may think that they can simply put in salaried workers onto the floor but unless they have background training in mechanical skills, could easily do themselves an injury by not knowing what to look out for. Not sure how much John Deere would be on the hook for in paying them compensation in case of injury or even death. And who would want to buy a tractor manufactured by them anyway under these condiions? It would be like buying a beta level tractor with who knows what surprises in store.
I am still seeing a pattern of union leadership doing its best to sell out the workers and if you will recall, the same happened during last year’s teachers strikes. So John Deere is using the same playbook as Kellogs as they too want to push a two-tiered system that take away benefits for future and current employees. More to the point, it is a divide and rule strategy where the workers in those plants will be divided and would come to resent each other – to the benefit of management. And like at Kellogs, the union leadership said that the negotiated deal that included this two-tier system was great and the workers should sign up for it, only to have the workers say hell no and go out on strike.
And it is not like John Deere has built up customer loyalty among their customers, not with all those propriety software shenanigans the past few years they haven’t. Maybe farmers will start to consider other tractor manufactures out there, both foreign an domestic. If Biden really wants to help, he could take off any import taxes on tractors for the next coupla months because when you get down to it, a tractor shortage could start to play merry with the food supply chain down the track. The ball is now in John Deere’s court.
> two-tiered system
Two-tiered systems are vile and a betrayal and tiers should be destroyed where found. That includes Social Security.
BCTGM International @BCTGM
Something this #KelloggStrike group understands inherently: We begin losing everything the moment we start “selling our young” out to a #TwoTierTravesty. And we repeat: JUST SAY NO TO TWO-TIER.
Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union
Remember the Stop & Shop strike? The union settled for a two tier system, and this year S&S pulled the meat cutting out of all of their stores. The butchers made pretty good livings, and now all of that work is being done by low wage workers in a plant in Rhode Island. They offered buyouts to the butchers, or reassignment. I have two cousins who took the buyout.
I don’t blame the workers – unlike friends I had who worked for GM in the 70s and 80s, these guys don’t have a lot of money saved to hold them through a lengthy walkout. I do suspect if they contract were up for re-negotiation this year, the outcome might have been different.
I found that Stop&Shop strike to be hugely frustrating. There was a lot of positive sentiment around New England, there was a very significant drop in revenue at various stores. It seemed like it was working very well. Local news even seemed sympathetic when they shamed a couple of local celebrities for crossing a picket line.
Then, suddenly, it was over and union leadership mostly capitulated. Was it me or were they just determined to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory??
I go to S&S primarily because it is a union shop, but a lot of their stores are way substandard compared to Shaw’s and Market Basket. I’m taking the bus up to Shaw’s later for fruit and veg. for that very reason.
I brought boxes of coffee to picketers at two stores last year. I told them that this support from their local socialists. They gave me the well known, “Are you from outter space” look. Onward!
Over the next few decades, more and more ” Greater Metropolitan Areas” will try and function somewhat like the Greek City States of classical antiquity, in terms of crafting food and water survival economies within their own ” City State” areas. For example, Cincinnati and the near countryside around it might come to think of itself as ” Cincinnathens” and the “Cincinnatians” might become ” Cincinnathenians”, getting as close to all of their food as possible from a ring of near countryside right around Cincinnathens itself. It might become a way to evade the danger of long supply lines and critical chokepoints.
Other “Greater City Metropolitan Areas” might try doing the same. Eventually a working rule of thumb might be . . . . don’t rely on survival necessity food from farther away than what an electric truck can deliver.
If things go to hell, it may be a matter of depending on food no further away than a loaded wagon can travel so maybe 15 to 25 miles perhaps.
Perhaps if enough people prepare for things going to heck sooner, they can head off and short-circuit the process of things going to hell later.
That was Murray Bookchin’s vision: Libertarian Municipalism.
And about that “L” word: Bookchin, an anarchist, refused to give up “libertarian” to the Randian Propertarians.
As people are increasingly calling our situation a “cold civil war,” this would not be a surprising evolution since it’s basically urban versus rural. Cities like mine better get to working on all these vacant lots to at least get them ready for growing food.
If a hundred million “urban” people made a point of buying food from the “near ring” of “shallow country” surrounding their towns and cities, they would be channeling more money into those “near rings” of “rural” right around their towns and cities, which would be visible evidence to the people in the “rural rings” of an attitude of urban civil non-war with rural. That is one more reason why Greek City State Political-Economics might be good for the towns and cities and the surrounding rural rings both together at the same time.
And if “urbanites” decided to pay a fair-wage price for product from the deeper countryside, that would indicate a civil non-war attitude to the people of Deep Rural. After that, it would be up to Deep Rural to decide how to respond.
Bearing in mind that urban based cultural fascists who stand between urban and rural are engineering this civil culture-war to empower their own social class funders and supporters.
Can’t wait for the pictures of corporate types from accounting, hr and other assorted desk jockeys try to build tractors. How many workplace injuries will occur due to untrained employees operating machinery they’re not trained to use?
Poetic justice:. What happens when a Deere mfg machine breaks, and the company that makes it is unable to send a tech out, and made it so that Deere can’t repair the machine themselves due to service contracts.
How’s that right to repair feeling now?
The striking workers have to make their own wants, needs and respect the purpose of this strike, first things first and all.
But if they turn out to have so much actual brute-force power that they can actually torture and strangle Deere into meeting their demands, and can then spend some time settling down into a reality where Deere cannot dilute the concessions or take them back, might the workers eventually consider watching for an opportunity to torture the company into granting “right to repair” to all present and future Deere customers?
That would win the unionized workers some permanent long-term gratitude and respect out in farm country and might turn some Deere-machine-owning farmers into Deere Union supporters. Just a some-future-day thought. . .
I am on a mission to help policymakers and business leaders get a better grasp of how capitalism actually works.
I have come up with this equation, which really helps.
Disposable income = wages – (taxes + the cost of living)
What does the equation do?
The equation puts the rentiers back into the picture, who had been removed by the early neoclassical economists.
Employees want more disposable income
Employers want to maximise profit by keeping wages as low as possible
The rentiers gains push up the cost of living.
Governments push up taxes to gain more revenue
The dynamics of the capitalist system are more complex than policymakers and business leaders are aware of.
I’ve let the CBI (Confederation of British Industry) have a quick peek at the equation.
Disposable income = wages – (taxes + the cost of living)
Two seconds later …..
They realise the UK’s high housing costs push up wages and are actually paid by the UK’s employers reducing profit.
Employees do get their money from wages, so employers are actually paying through wages.
The neoliberal squeeze.
Disposable income = wages – (taxes + the cost of living)
Keep wages down, and let the cost of living soar through high housing costs.
When it gets bad enough, the yellow vests hit the streets.
Macron found out the hard way.
We don’t realise we drive up wages with rising housing and healthcare costs, which add to the cost of living.
This is where the equation really helps.
The Chinese didn’t have the equation.
Davos 2019 – The Chinese have now realised high housing costs eat into consumer spending and they wanted to increase internal consumption.
They let real estate rip and have now realised why that wasn’t a good idea.
The equation makes it so easy.
Disposable income = wages – (taxes + the cost of living)
The cost of living term goes up with increased housing costs.
The disposable income term goes down.
They didn’t have the equation, they used neoclassical economics.
The Chinese had to learn the hard way and it took years, but they got there in the end.
They have let the cost of living rise and they want to increase internal consumption.
Disposable income = wages – (taxes + the cost of living)
It’s a double whammy on wages.
China isn’t as competitive as it used to be.
China has become more expensive and developed Eastern economies are off-shoring to places like Vietnam, Bangladesh and the Philippines.
“…but I do blame the brain geniuses at Google for treating the same wire service story as a separate hit, time after time after time.”
One sees more and more of this in the Bot World. As we become more and more dependent on Tech, it becomes more and more independent of us and our needs. Once AI picks up and morphs to GI, watch out, Humans.
I read one tier was offered 5% increase and another 6%. It did not give a time frame. I think it is for the entire 6 years, but the report implied annual raise. Has anyone seen the figures? Thanks.
The strikers need to sell Tshirts online. I am a buyer….
I really appreciate the coverage on this. Whatever the outcome, this is the most action I’ve seen in my lifetime on the labor front. As skeptical as I am, it’s hard not to feel “something” is changing.
Anyway, I hope this is ok, but I wanted to share this link from another message board with the perspective from someone in the IATSE. I really appreciate on the ground views like this because I feel we don’t get it from the media: https://caucus99percent.com/content/movie-industry-strike-date-set
I feel like the promises of “learn to code” led people who might otherwise become rabble rousers to leave jobs. With the “gig economy”, I feel like a critical mass of would be rabble rousers is hitting industries because it would be stupid to leave.
The Kelloggs stuff strikes me as another important aspect. I suspect there is a rapid realization that labor union leadership has been really quite bad across the board for a while. The rabble rousers can’t be argued argued gains because the “cooler heads” are just lap dogs.
Below, from Wisconsin local reporting, just to clarify. I had wondered why we didn’t hear much as I know the JD union is very active-good, good people.
John Deere workers around the nation does not affect the Horicon plant because its workers are affiliated with a different union. But some Wisconsin workers are heading to an Iowa facility to walk the picket lines in support.
The Horicon plant’s union is part of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Engineers, while the workers on strike are members of the United Auto Workers (UAW)
I have a friend who was an engineer and manager of a department at the Ottumwa plant. He took a severance about a year ago because he saw what senior management was doing to the workers and lower-level managers. He went through a restructuring a few years prior to taking his severance and saw what senior management did to those who they wanted gone but didn’t leave. About a year later those lower-level managers who stayed were let go with nothing.
I talked to him last night to get his take on the strike. He said it’s about time the workers went on strike. He said the workers had been getting screwed for years by management and he was glad they walked. I guess you can tell he supports the workers.
If labor action becomes too big to ignore I can see the the economist footstools blaming all the inflation on “wage-push.” This will be a very convenient lever for the political footstools to rush through yet more anti-labor legislation with the kind endorsement of National Labor Relations Board. Where’s Mike Quill when you need him?
I really do miss those old hard core union guys who knew who the enemy was. Of course, in the case Jock Yablonsky the enemy was much closer at hand. Quill was my kind of bastard. I remember him standing up to Pres. Kennedy and basically telling him to go to hell. Jail followed shortly thereafter. Walter Reuther and John L. Lewis were labor leaders widely admired by working people everywhere for their defense of their interests. During the anti-war period labor leaders lost a lot of their prestige in defense of Vietnam war, but they were simply parroting the attitudes of their constituency. Wimpy Wimpsinger was virulently anti-war, and I loved him for that. Trumpka had the chops, but he eventually caved to the oligarchs. That’s why he was lionized by the press after his death. If he had the balls, he might have gotten “card check” done. Those guys are all gone but not forgotten.
” Wimpsinger ” . . . .
Do you mean ” Winpisinger” ?
Like this? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_W._Winpisinger
hm, one minor thing. the reason most vendors that sell high priced products (cars, etc) have finance arms, is that its fairly easy to make money on those operations, to help off set losses in products they sell it also helps to sell their products with all sorts of financing options, that independent finance companies wont offer since they dont actually care to help sell the products. GMAC ( which GM sold off to Ally in 2008-2010, but since then has bought another finance company, which was renamed GM Financial). and many other car companies have there own captive finance company (it would be harder to find one that doesnt than one that does).
Jalopnik has just come out with an interesting article about the wages for John Deere employees. The report that they are making $60,000 a year are actually perfect world calculations by John Deere and do not reflect the reality for those workers-