“The nearly one million retired and active UAW members stand in solidarity with striking UAW members at John Deere,” said UAW President Ray Curry.
Brad Morris, vice president of labor relations at Deere, said in a statement that the company is “committed to a positive outcome for our employees, our communities and everyone involved.” He said Deere wanted a deal that would improve the economic situation for all employees.
“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,” Morris said.
Thirty-five years have passed since Deere’s last big strike, but workers have been emboldened to demand more this year after working long hours throughout the pandemic and because companies face worker shortages .
“Our members at John Deere are on strike so they can earn a decent living, retire with dignity and establish a level playing field,” said Chuck Browning, vice president and director of the UAW’s agricultural tools department. “We remain committed to negotiating until our members’ goals are met.
A handful of workers began forming a picket line outside the company’s factory in Milan, a western Illinois town near the Iowa border, about 15 minutes later. the strike deadline.
The union put down a barrel of metal and firewood to keep workers warm ahead of a protest that is expected to go on 24 hours a day, the Quad-City Times reported. At several other Deere factories, workers planned to start picketing Thursday morning when the first shift would normally arrive.
Chris Laursen, who works as a painter at Deere, told the Des Moines Register before the strike that it could make a significant difference.
“The whole nation is going to watch us,” Laursen told the newspaper. “If we take a stand here for ourselves, our families, for basic human prosperity, it will make a difference for the entire manufacturing industry. Let’s do it. Let’s not be intimidated.
Earlier this year, another group of workers represented by the UAW went on strike at a Volvo Trucks plant in Virginia and ended up with better pay and cheaper health benefits after rejecting three offers provisional contracts.
The contracts under negotiation covered 14 Deere factories in the United States, including seven in Iowa, four in Illinois and one in Kansas, Colorado and Georgia.
Contract talks for the Moline, Illinois-based company were unfolding as Deere expects to post record profits of between $ 5.7 billion and $ 5.9 billion this year. The company reported strong sales of its agricultural and construction equipment this year.
Deere’s production plants are major contributors to the economy, so local officials hope any strike will be short-lived.
“We really want to see our economy stabilize and grow after the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Moline Mayor Sangeetha Rayapati told the Quad-City Times. “I hope these parties can come to a resolution soon.”