-Meg McLaughlin / Quad City Times via AP
April and Daniel Wiggins and Heath Palmer of Davenport, picket outside the John Deere Davenport Works Thursday, October 14, 2021, in Davenport, Iowa. More than 10,000 Deere & Co. workers went on strike Thursday after the United Auto Workers union said the negotiators could not reach a new agreement that would meet workers’ demands and needs.
MOLINE, Illinois (AP) – More than 10,000 Deere & Co. workers went on strike Thursday, the first major strike at the farm equipment giant in more than three decades.
The union announced that if an agreement was not reached on Wednesday, its members would quit their jobs. The vast majority of the union turned down a contract offer earlier this week that would have raised some workers 5% and others 6% at the Illinois company known for its green tractors.
« The nearly one million UAW retirees and active members stand in solidarity with the striking UAW members at John Deere, » said UAW President Ray Curry.
Brad Morris, vice president of labor relations at Deere, said, the company is « committed to a favorable result for our employees, our communities and all those involved ». He said Deere wanted an agreement that would improve the economic situation of all employees.
“We will continue to work day and night to understand our employees’ priorities and resolve this strike while doing our operations for the good keep all of our employees running, ”said Morris.
Thirty-five years have passed since the last major Deere strike, but workers were encouraged to ask for more this year after having worked and companies with long during the pandemic faced a labor shortage.
« Our John Deere members are on strike for the ability to earn a decent living, retire with dignity, and establish fair labor rules, » said Chuck Browning, vice president and director of the farm equipment division the UAW. « We will continue to negotiate until our members’ goals are met. »
About 15 minutes after the strike ended, a handful of workers started a picket line in front of the company’s plant in Milan, a city in western Illinois near the Iowa border , to build.
The union brought a metal barrel and firewood to keep the workers warm in preparation for a demonstration that is expected to continue 24 hours a day, the Quad-City Times reported. Workers began picket lines at several other Deere plants, including his large facility in Waterloo, Iowa, on Thursday morning, when the first shift normally came.
Chris Laursen, who works as a painter at Deere, told the Des Moines Register before the strike that this could make a significant difference.
« The whole nation will be watching us, » Laursen told the newspaper. “If we stand here for ourselves, our families, for basic human prosperity, it will make a difference to the entire manufacturing industry. Let’s do it. Let’s not intimidate us. ”
According to the agreement the workers rejected, a top-notch Deere production worker would make just over $ 30 an hour and rise to $ 31.84 after five years, the summary of the Proposal.
Creighton University economist Ernie Goss said workers have a lot of leeway to negotiate with because of the ongoing labor shortage.
« Right now, workers in the US are in one very good position to negotiate so now is a good time to strike, « said Goss.
Earlier this year another group of UAW-represented workers went on strike at a Volvo Trucks plant in Virginia and ended up getting better pay and cheaper health care after turning down three preliminary contract offers.
The contracts under negotiation include 14 Deere plants, including seven in Iowa, four in Illinois and one each in Kansas, Colorado and Georgia.
Contract talks at the Moline, Illinois-based company were in full swing as Deere saw record profits of $ 5.7 billion to $ 5.9 billion this year. Dollar expected. The company has reported strong sales of its agricultural and construction equipment this year.
Iowa State University economist Dave Swenson said the revenue will give Deere the means to come to terms with the workers.
« You can afford to sort this thing on much nicer union terms and still have really strong profitability, » Swenson said.
Swenson said the impact of the strike could spread when companies supplying Deere factories had to start laying off workers. Deere will therefore face pressure from suppliers and customers who need parts for their Deere equipment to quickly resolve the strike. And Swenson said Deere will be concerned about losing market share if farmers decide to buy from other companies this fall.
« Deere will be putting a lot of pressure to move closer to the union’s demands, » said Swenson.
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