More than 10,000 Deere & Company workers went on strike on Thursday after the company failed to meet the demands of its unionized workers for higher pay and better retirement options.
The employees are members of the United Auto Workers union.
The Associated Press reported that Deere offered 5 percent raises to some employees and 6 percent raises to others. They turned the deal down, and some started picket lines outside plants in Illinois and Iowa.
One man at the Iowa location told the Des Moines Register he expects the entire country to listen to the workers’ demands.
“The whole nation’s going to be watching us,” Chris Laursen said. “If we take a stand here for ourselves, our families, for basic human prosperity, it’s going to make a difference for the whole manufacturing industry. Let’s do it. Let’s not be intimidated.”
The Register reported that this is the first strike at Deere & Company in 35 years. A dispute in 1986 between the company and employees lasted 163 days.
In a Thursday news release, the UAW signaled its members were not going to budge.
“UAW John Deere members struck at midnight October 14, after the company failed to present an agreement that met our members’ demands and needs,” the union said.
UAW vice president said in the news release that the strike will end when employees are paid more than Deere offered.
“Our members at John Deere strike for the ability to earn a decent living, retire with dignity and establish fair work rules,” he said. “We stay committed to bargaining until our members’ goals are achieved.”
According to the AP, the company had offered top-scale production workers over $30 per hour.
UAW president Ray Curry said the union would stand in solidarity with the striking workers.
“UAW John Deere members have worked through the pandemic after the company deemed them essential, to produce the equipment that feeds America, builds America and powers the American economy,” he said.
“These essential UAW workers are showing us all that through the power of a strong united union voice on the picket line they can make a difference for working families here and throughout the country.”
Dave Swenson, an economist at Iowa State University, said he believes UAW workers and Deere can come to an amicable agreement.
“[Deere] can afford to settle this thing on much more agreeable terms to the union and still maintain really strong profitability,” Swenson said.
Brad Morris, Deere’s vice president of labor relations, said the agricultural equipment manufacturer is “committed to a favorable outcome for our employees, our communities and everyone involved.”
“We will keep working day and night to understand our employees’ priorities and resolve this strike, while also keeping our operations running for the benefit of all those we serve,” Morris said.
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