More than 30 trade union representative (locals, works councils, shop stewards and trade union officials), representing workers from three continents employed at John Deere operations, came together to exchange on present challenges in their respective countries and the ways to move forward the union network. They met at the headquarter of Deere & Company in Moline, Illinois, USA. Deere and Company is one of the leading multinational companies, producing agricultural, building and forestry machines, with the main brand name of John Deere.
The global union network was founded in 2012 in Switzerland. The network succeeded now to have an exchange with top management on this level for the very first time. It took the affiliates of IndustriALL Global Union, namely the United Auto Workers (UAW), a lot of efforts and discussion to win the company management’s trust for such a step. This shows also a strong commitment of the company to further dialogue with its employees and their trade unions around the world.
The meeting was opened with a farm visit, where the Deere workers were able to see their products in use. Union delegated also appreciated the visit, because many of them actually produce the equipment used in the farm. So, they were able to see how labour of factory workers helps to facilitate and renders work of the final customer, the farmer, more effective.
The company also provided for a guided tour to its facility in Davenport, Iowa. Here, mostly construction and forestry machinery is assembled. Following the tour a joint session with senior management and trade unions took place. During this session, Max A. Quinn, John Deere president of worldwide construction and forestry, gave a presentation and answered questions from the unions.
At the joint dinner with the management, Samuel R. Allen, company chairman and CEO, joined delegates and spoke about the long lasting process of creating mutual respect and trust between company management and union leadership. He especially mentioned the long lasting good working relations with soon retiring UAW president Dennis Williams, who also attended the event
In his response Dennis Williams, President of the United Auto Workers (UAW) said,
“For me to see the success of this network today, in how much it has grown, gives me happiness. Everybody is here, my Brazilian colleagues and other colleagues from around the globe. John Deere is hosting this meeting and I think it will be very successful.”
Matthias Hartwich, IndustriALL director for mechanical engineering said,
“For some companies, squeezing the labour is the easiest way to generate profits. These companies think that workers‘ income is always too high and must be lowered, hence they try to keep trade unions out. This is not the case at Deere. I do hope that we can continue with the process that was initiated this year. Building trust between unions and management is always a long journey, but I think this year we made a huge step forward.”
Participants of the meeting unanimously demanded that the network should continue its regular yearly meetings and expressed their unions commitment to help with this.
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