John Deere workers in Iowa, Illinois, and Kansas voted to reject a six-year contract last night, the Des Moines Register reports. 90% of members opposed the contract in the vote. As Labor Notes reported, 99% of voting members voted in favor of authorizing a strike last month but the current contract was extended. Workers expressed frustration that union leaders had not called for a strike after the vote and many heard echoes of the 1997 contract negotiations, where they felt the union had negotiated a contract that undercut future workers. The contract rejected on Sunday included modest wage increases, three extra holidays, and two weeks of parental leave. It did not resolve a central concern for workers: the pension plan. The plan would be entirely eliminated for new hires (who would receive 401(K) contributions instead) and the two-tier system that the 1997 contract created would remain in place: full pension and health care benefits for retirees who started at the company before that contract and approximately one third of those benefits for those hired after that. Negotiations are occurring against the backdrop of record profits for John Deere, which raked in $5.9 billion this fiscal year, a 61% improvement on its previous annual record. Its CEO’s pay increased by 160% during the pandemic. Assembler Shawn Fields explained that it all made his vote against the contract simple: “We got crumbs. That’s all it comes down to.” UAW has said that it will call a strike if no agreement is reached by Wednesday at 11:59pm.
Goldman Sachs has reached a settlement with a former college intern who was harassed and physically assaulted by his supervisors, Bloomberg reports. The lawsuit was pending before a San Francisco Superior Court, and the terms of the settlement agreement have not been released. The former intern alleged that employees and interns were given derisive nicknames, forced to drink large amounts of alcohol, and subjected to physical violence. Specifically, he alleged that, at a bar following an in-office happy hour, a supervisor punched him and then held him in a headlock until he passed out. The employees present, who included a vice president, had the supervisor take the intern home rather than to a hospital. He was later diagnosed with a brain bleed, for which he is still being treated four years after the incident. Goldman Sachs had maintained that it was not liable for his injuries and that any compensation he was entitled to should come from the state workers comp system.
And, in case you missed it, a piece out last week from the Washington Post Magazine explores the abuse faced by domestic workers who are brought to the United States by foreign diplomatic officials. A “power imbalance [is] embedded in the visas”: their visas are attached to their employer and provide work authorization and lawful immigration status. Many domestic workers are isolated in their employers’ homes, without an understanding of what legal rights and recourse they have. Advocates allege that the U.S. government has not gone far enough in the face of physical and sexual abuse, wage theft, and intolerable hours. Where limited remedies—such as requesting a waiver of diplomatic immunity or requesting that a sending country pay a harmed worker—do exist, it is unclear how often they are used. For example, Germania, an Ecuadorian diplomatic domestic worker, won a judgment against her employers but has still not been paid after fourteen years. Her conversation with Latino USA is available here.