Deere & Co. workers go on strike after rejecting contract

More than 10,000 Deere & Co. workers went on strike Thursday after “the company failed to present an agreement that met our members’ demands and needs,” the United Auto Workers union said in a statement.

Posted: Oct 13, 2021 12:18 PM
Updated: Oct 14, 2021 11:33 AM

MOLINE, Ill. (AP) — More than 10,000 Deere & Co. workers went on strike Thursday, the first major walkout at the agricultural machinery giant in more than three decades.

The union had said its members would walk off the job if no deal has been reached Wednesday. The vast majority of the union rejected a contract offer earlier this week that would have delivered 5% raises to some workers and 6% raises to others at the Illinois company known for its green tractors.

“The almost one million UAW retirees and active members stand in solidarity with the striking UAW members at John Deere," UAW President Ray Curry said.

Brad Morris, vice president of labor relations for Deere, said the company is "committed to a favorable outcome for our employees, our communities and everyone involved.” He said Deere wants an agreement that would improve the economic position of all employees.

“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.

Thirty-five years have passed since the last major Deere strike, but workers were emboldened to demand more this year after working long hours throughout the pandemic and because companies are facing worker shortages.

“Our members at John Deere strike for the ability to earn a decent living, retire with dignity and establish fair work rules,” said Chuck Browning, vice president and director of the UAW’s Agricultural Implement Department. “We stay committed to bargaining until our members’ goals are achieved.”

A handful of workers began forming a picket line outside the company's plant in Milan, a town in western Illinois near the Iowa border, about 15 minutes after strike deadline.

The union dropped off a metal barrel and firewood to keep workers warm in preparation for a demonstration that is expected to continues for 24 hours a day, the Quad-City Times reported. Workers began picketing at several other Deere plants — including at its large operation in Waterloo, Iowa — Thursday morning around 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’s going to be watching us,” Laursen said to the newspaper. “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.”

Under the agreement that the workers rejected, a top scale Deere production worker would make just over $30 per hour, rising to $31.84 after five years, according to summary of the proposal.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss said workers have a lot of leverage to bargain with right now because of the ongoing worker shortages.

“Right now across the US, labor is in a very good strong position to bargain, so now is a good time to strike,” Goss said.

Earlier this year, another group of UAW-represented workers went on strike at a Volvo Trucks plant in Virginia and wound up with better pay and lower-cost health benefits after rejecting three tentative contract offers.

The contracts under negotiation cover 14 Deere plants, including seven in Iowa, four in Illinois and one each in Kansas, Colorado and Georgia.

The contract talks at the Moline, Illinois-based company were unfolding as Deere is expecting to report record profits between $5.7 billion and $5.9 billion this year. The company has been reporting strong sales of its agricultural and construction equipment this year.

Iowa State University economist Dave Swenson said those profits give Deere the means to come to terms with workers.

“They can afford to settle this thing on much more agreeable terms to the union and still maintain really strong profitability,” Swenson said.

The Deere production plants are important contributors to the economy, so local officials hope any strike will be short-lived because it will have an immediate impact when striking workers cut back on their spending.

“We definitely want to see our economy stabilize and grow after the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Moline Mayor Sangeetha Rayapati said to the Quad-City Times. “Hopefully, these parties can come to a resolution soon.”

Swenson said the impact of the strike could spread further if companies that supply Deere factories have to begin laying off workers. So Deere will face pressure from suppliers and from customers who need parts for their Deere equipment to settle the strike quickly. And Swenson said Deere will be worried about losing market share if farmers decide to buy from other companies this fall.

“There is going to be a lot of pressure on Deere to move closer to the union’s demands,” Swenson said.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 755401

Reported Deaths: 8531
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1513291905
Ramsey62614972
Dakota56158520
Anoka53010513
Washington33145327
Stearns27922252
St. Louis23178352
Scott21316159
Wright20879170
Olmsted17821118
Sherburne15232111
Carver1336954
Clay1006598
Rice9855131
Blue Earth949559
Crow Wing9254105
Kandiyohi819195
Chisago816662
Otter Tail7807104
Benton7363108
Beltrami633276
Mower631740
Douglas616189
Goodhue603683
Winona603653
Itasca596978
McLeod580868
Steele572425
Isanti558172
Morrison541565
Becker518762
Polk502577
Freeborn480842
Nobles477052
Lyon444456
Carlton438666
Nicollet423051
Pine419930
Cass413142
Mille Lacs403565
Brown398846
Todd389336
Le Sueur378331
Meeker350452
Waseca322629
Martin316534
Wabasha28495
Hubbard283644
Dodge26819
Roseau258924
Fillmore236312
Redwood234143
Wadena230229
Houston229017
Renville224249
Faribault214630
Pennington213227
Sibley204512
Cottonwood193027
Kanabec187130
Chippewa185839
Aitkin178442
Watonwan168711
Pope15328
Rock153219
Yellow Medicine151120
Jackson144114
Koochiching137219
Clearwater133318
Swift132619
Pipestone131627
Marshall131419
Murray131310
Stevens122311
Lake106221
Wilkin100214
Lac qui Parle95024
Mahnomen86312
Norman8459
Big Stone7874
Grant7669
Lincoln7525
Kittson59522
Red Lake5769
Unassigned528124
Traverse5005
Lake of the Woods4524
Cook2420

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 467281

Reported Deaths: 6685
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk73698716
Linn28680379
Scott24441271
Black Hawk20130355
Woodbury18854242
Johnson17800100
Dubuque15577228
Pottawattamie14073197
Dallas13894107
Story1275148
Warren763496
Webster6876111
Cerro Gordo6816107
Clinton6814100
Des Moines657893
Marshall635484
Muscatine6294113
Wapello5807136
Jasper571478
Lee560787
Sioux560276
Marion499791
Buena Vista489745
Plymouth459187
Henry378647
Jones365160
Washington362255
Bremer353867
Benton352056
Boone344837
Carroll341753
Crawford337345
Mahaska313656
Dickinson297651
Clay274631
Buchanan274239
Jackson270445
Kossuth269373
Hardin266448
Tama261476
Fayette253848
Delaware253444
Cedar246326
Page244827
Wright240945
Winneshiek230837
Hamilton228553
Floyd216744
Harrison215277
Madison214325
Clayton210058
Poweshiek206840
Iowa204229
Butler203237
Jefferson197340
Mills197227
Allamakee192952
Cherokee191943
Lyon190641
Cass190557
Winnebago185432
Hancock184739
Calhoun184115
Appanoose175950
Shelby174239
Louisa169651
Grundy167937
Emmet163842
Franklin163328
Humboldt161826
Mitchell161843
Union159437
Chickasaw156418
Sac156323
Guthrie154034
Palo Alto140831
Clarke140028
Montgomery138941
Keokuk137534
Monroe131534
Howard125422
Ida116641
Davis113825
Greene113712
Lucas112224
Pocahontas109323
Monona107436
Worth10678
Adair103634
Osceola91117
Fremont83711
Van Buren82721
Decatur81212
Taylor78612
Wayne72024
Ringgold66827
Audubon64514
Adams4984
Unassigned150
Rochester
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 40°
Mason City
Clear
37° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 37°
Albert Lea
Partly Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 45°
Austin
Partly Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 45°
Charles City
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 43°
A warm start before a cold end
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Apples in short supply this season at Northwoods Orchard

Image

Rochester Community Warming Center celebrates start of season with ribbon cutting ceremony

Image

Area apple orchard impacted by spring and summer weather

Image

Our Lady of Guadalupe statue returns

Image

Breast cancer awareness walk

Image

Full Sunday Forecast 10/17/21

Image

Afghan Evacuee Coat Drive

Image

Cans For Kids Event

Image

ROCHESTER RECORD SHOW

Image

RONALD MCDONALD CANS FOR KIDS

Community Events