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 discuss challenges and ways to move the union network forward.
The global union network was founded in 2012 in Switzerland, and for the first time the network succeeded have an exchange with top management. It took the affiliates of IndustriALL Global Union, namely the United Auto Workers (UAW), a lot of efforts and discussion to win management’s trust for such a step, showing the company's strong commitment to a further dialogue with its employees and their unions around the world.
The meeting at the headquarter of Deere & Company in Moline, Illinois, USA, started with a farm visit, where the Deere workers were able to see their products in use, and how their work facilitates the work of the final customer, the farmer.
The company provided a guided tour of its facility in Davenport, Iowa, where 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. Guinn, John Deere president of worldwide construction and forestry, gave a presentation and answered questions from the unions.
At a joint dinner with 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 mentioned the long lasting good working relations with soon retiring UAW president Dennis Williams, who also attended the event.
Dennis Williams, 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 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 unanimously demanded that the network should continue its regular annual meetings and expressed their unions' commitment.
Deere and Company is one of the leading multinational companies, producing agricultural, building and forestry machines, with the main brand name of John Deere