More than 10,000 John Deere workers went on strike Thursday after rejecting a proposed contract from the company.
The workers are represented by the United Auto Workers union and the strike affects members at 14 Deere & Co. facilities across the United States, the company said in a statement.
“Our John Deere members are on strike so they can earn a decent living, retire with dignity and establish a level playing field,” Chuck Browning, director of the union’s agriculture department, said in a statement. “We remain committed to negotiating until our members’ goals are met.
“The nearly one million retired and active UAW members stand in solidarity with striking UAW members at John Deere,” said UAW President Ray Curry.
About 90 percent of union members voted against the company’s contract proposal earlier this month. On Sunday, the union set a Thursday strike deadline if another deal could not be reached.
UAW negotiators said the company’s proposal included “substantial hard-fought gains,” but was not enough for grassroots workers, who flatly rejected it.
“These are skilled, tedious jobs that UAW members take pride in every day,” said Mitchell Smith, UAW Region 8 director. “Strikes are never easy for workers or their families, but John Deere workers believe they deserve a better slice of the pie, a safer workplace and adequate benefits. “
The strike comes five months after Deere & Co. shares hit a new all-time high of just over $ 400 per share.
The stock has since fallen around 20% to $ 330 per share, but is still up more than 22% this year, outpacing gains in the broader market.
The company posted record profits throughout the pandemic, and in August it said it expected to make a record profit of nearly $ 6 billion this year.
“John Deere is committed to achieving a successful outcome for our employees, our communities and everyone involved,” said Brad Morris, vice president of labor relations for Deere & Co. “We are committed to reaching a deal with the UAW that would put every employee in a better economic position and continue to make them the highest paid employees in the agriculture and construction sectors.
“We will continue to work day and night to understand our employees’ priorities and resolve this strike, while keeping our operations ongoing for the benefit of all we serve.”
The strike comes amid a wave of worker unrest about 19 months after the start of the pandemic, as businesses grapple with a nationwide labor shortage and current employees take advantage of their increasingly strong negotiation advantage.
Last week, production at Kellogg’s U.S. grain factories halted as the estimated 1,400 workers at the company’s U.S. plant called a nationwide strike over pay and benefits issues as well as suspected threats by the company to move production overseas.
Workers at Mondelez International, the company behind Oreos and other snacks, also went on strike earlier this summer.
And a Hollywood union that represents roughly 150,000 off-screen workers has voted to authorize a strike that threatens to cripple the industry. If an agreement is not reached by Monday, the union has said it will go on strike.