Thousands of John Deere workers go on strike. | MCUTimes

Thousands of John Deere workers go on strike.

PictureJohn Deere equipment in front of the US Capitol in Washington last year.
Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

About 10,000 union workers at the agricultural equipment manufacturer Deere & Company went on strike early Thursday after predominantly rejecting a contract proposal drafted by the company by dealers for the United Automobile Workers union.

“Our members at John Deere are on strike for the ability to earn a decent living, retire with dignity and establish fair work rules,” said Chuck Browning, director of the union’s agriculture department, in a declaration. “We remain committed to negotiating until our members’ goals are reached.”

That strike deadline was announced Sunday after the union said its members had voted down preliminary agreement reached on October 1 with the company that manufactures the tractor John Deere. Traders had characterized the proposal as providing “significant economic gains” and “top-quality healthcare in the industry.”

But workers spread across about a dozen facilities, primarily in Iowa and Illinois, criticized the agreement for insufficiently rising wages, for denying a traditional pension to new employees, and for not significantly improving an incentive program that they consider overly nutritious. .

“We have never had the tire stacked in our favor as it is now,” said Chris Laursen, an employee at a John Deere facility in Ottumwa, Iowa, who was president of his local there until recently.

Laursen cited the profitability of Deere & Company – which is in the process of setting a record nearly $ 6 billion this fiscal year — as well as relatively high commodity prices in agriculture and bottlenecks in the supply chain due to the pandemic as sources of leverage for workers.

“The company is reaping such rewards, but we are fighting for crumbs here,” he said.

The strike comes at a time when many employers are struggling with a shortage of workers and workers across the country appear more willing to take strikes and other acts of labor.

Last week, more than 1,000 workers went on strike at Kellogg, the grain maker, and Mondelez International, the maker of Oreos, experienced a work stoppage this summer. Workers have been running high-profile union campaigns on Amazon and Starbucks.

Below preliminary agreement, wages would have increased 5 or 6 percent this year, depending on an employee’s grade, and then a further 3 percent each in 2023 and 2025.

Traditional pension benefits would have increased, but would have been significantly lower for employees hired after 1997 than before, and many workers were disappointed to see them reduce to new hires, Laursen said.

Threatening the negotiation is a suspicion among professionals vis-à-vis the international union as a result of a series of scandals in recent years involving union corruption and illegal payments from company executives then known as Fiat Chrysler to union officials.

The scandals led to more than 15 judgments, including two of the most recent UAW presidents.

Credit…Gilles Sabrié for The New York Times

Chinese authorities on Wednesday announced a national hunt to extract and burn more coal, despite their previous promises to limit emissions that cause climate change.

Mines that were closed without permission have been ordered to reopen. Coal mines and coal-fired power plants that were closed for repairs also need to be reopened. Tax incentives are prepared for coal-fired power plants. Regulators have ordered Chinese banks to provide plenty of loans to the coal sector.

“We will do our utmost to increase coal production and supply,” Zhao Chenxin, secretary general of the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top economic planning agency, told a news conference in Beijing on Wednesday.

The changes are a response to the country’s shortage of electricity, and how much coal can soon be extracted and burned will help determine whether Beijing can deliver the strong economic growth that China’s people have come to expect in the coming months.

The power rationing appears to have eased somewhat since late last month, as extensive power outages and power outages surprised factories. But the winter warming season officially begins Friday in the northeastern part of the country and continues into north-central China next month.

China faces tough choices. It burns more coal than the rest of the world combined and is the No. 2 consumer of oil after the United States.

The power crisis has also revealed one of China’s strategic weaknesses: It is a greedy and increasingly hungry energy pig. READ THE ARTICLE →

Credit…TJ Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

Facebook on Tuesday told employees it made some of its internal online discussion groups private in an attempt to minimize leaks.

Many Facebook employees join online discussion groups on Workplace, an internal bulletin board that employees use to communicate and collaborate with each other. In the announcement Tuesday, the company said it did some groups focused on platform security and choice protection, an area widely known as “integrity”, private rather than public in the company, limiting who can see and participate in the discussion threads.

This move follows the revelation by Frances Haugen, a former employee, of thousands of pages of internal documents to regulators, lawmakers and the news media. The documents showed that Facebook was aware of some of the damage it caused. Miss Haugen, a former member of Facebook’s civil misinformation team, has filed a whistleblower complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission and testified before a Senate subcommittee this month.

“As everyone probably knows, we’ve seen an increase in the number of privacy-related leaks in recent months,” an engineering director wrote in the statement, which was reviewed by The New York Times. “These leaks are not representative of the nuances and complexities involved in our work, and they are often taken out of context, leading to our work being externally discharged.”

Facebook had been known for an open culture that encouraged debate and transparency, but it has become more isolated as it has faced leaks about issues such as toxic speech and misinformation and struggled with unrest in the staff. In July, the communications team closed comments on an internal forum used for company-wide communications, writing, “OUR REQUEST: PLEASE NOT LEAK.”

“Leaks make it harder for our teams to work together, can expose employees working on sensitive issues remotely, and lead to complex issues being misrepresented and misunderstood,” Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said in a statement. Mr. Stone also said Facebook had been planning the changes for several months.

Tuesday’s announcement said Facebook plans to review some of the online discussion groups to remove people whose work is not related to safety and security. The changes will take place in the “coming months” and “with the expectation that sensitive integrity discussions will take place in closed, curated forums in the future.”

In internal comments shared with The Times, some employees supported the move, while others condemned the loss of transparency and cooperation. They called the change “counterproductive” and “discouraging”, with one person suggesting it could lead to even more leaks from disgruntled employees.

“I think every single employee in the company should think about and work with integrity as part of their daily role, and we should work to promote a culture where that is the expectation,” one Facebook employee wrote. “Disrupting the people dedicated to integrity will hurt both the active effort to cooperate and reduce the cultural expectation that integrity is everyone’s responsibility.”

Mike Isaac contributed reporting.

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