Sen. Bernie Sanders was among the labor advocates in Congress on Tuesday who condemned reports that farm equipment manufacturer John Deere plans to force 10,000 striking workers and their families off their health insurance plans next week—a punitive measure to coerce the employees into ending their strike over what they say is an unfair contract.
The Vermont independent senator called the company’s plan “beyond outrageous,” noting that John Deere’s profits have gone up by 67% in the past year, with a net income between $5.7 and $5.9 billion.
“Workers must be allowed to keep their healthcare during the strike,” Sanders said.
“Taking healthcare off the bargaining table by making it a right for everyone in America would vastly increase workers’ bargaining power and make it easier for workers to stand against vicious union-busting attacks.”
Jonah Furman of Labor Notes reported last Friday that striking John Deere workers have learned the company will cut them off from their health insurance plans starting October 27, weeks after Congress allowed COBRA subsidies to expire.
“They could just as easily not do this, but they want to break the strike,” Furman said.
At Common Dreams last week, Mark Dudzic, chair of the Labor Campaign for Single Payer Healthcare, wrote that Striketober and corporation’s strike-breaking efforts bolster the case for Medicare for All.