Labor expert weighs in on potential short, long-term impacts of John Deere strike

As the negotiations continue, a labor expert explains the short and long-term economic impacts strikes can have.
Published: Oct. 19, 2021 at 5:53 PM CDT
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - Tuesday marked another day out on the picket line for UAW workers striking against John Deere.

As the negotiations continue, a labor expert explains the short and long-term economic impacts strikes can have.

“Short-term the employer is trying to keep production going. Obviously, they want to keep meeting their orders to their customers as well,” said Todd Vachon, the Director of Labor Education Program at Rutgers University.

Vachon said employers could feel the immediate impact of not completing production in the same time frame they normally could with their full workforce.

“That puts a lot of pressure on the employer to try and try to settle the contract sooner so that they can get their highly trained and skilled unionized workforce back to work on the shop floor producing the machinery that they need to sell to their customers.”

As for workers, he said it’s still early.

“It’s only a few days into it so they’re probably not feeling as much yet but as time wears on, you know, you’re not making your full paycheck anymore but your bills are still there right?” he said.

However, Vachon said the union’s strike fund and support from some area businesses could alleviate the financial strain workers could face if a strike continues for a while.

“There’s kind of two sides to the story right? Those workers themselves have a little bit less to spend but there are folks calling in support and supporting local businesses in that way.”

Vachon also said if the workers make big gains in the negotiations, it could be helpful to a local economy.

“John Deere is a very profitable company. They’re making lots of money. They can afford to give raises, you know, really good raises to the workers but they’re just choosing internally how to distribute their revenue and their profits, and by giving lots of it to folks like the CEO and to the shareholders and through stock buybacks,” he said, “That money is going away. That money is going to Wall Street right. It’s a lot better for the local economy if that money goes into the pockets of the local workforce where they’re going to spend the money right there in town.”

Other long-term effects of this strike could be dependent on the outcome of the situation. Vachon said now is a good time for workers to seek improvements for their work conditions.

“For a long time, the power balance has been tilted to the side of corporations and this could potentially shift the balance back so that workers, for the long haul, have a greater say in the outcome of the fruits of their labor.”

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