More than 10,000 Deere & Co. workers went on strike Thursday at midnight after “the company failed to present an agreement that met our members’ demands and needs,” the United Auto Workers union said in statement. The union had said its members would walk off the job if no deal has been reached by 11:59pm. 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. "Almost one million UAW retirees and active members ... stand in solidarity with the striking UAW members at John Deere," said UAW President Ray Curry.
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, the AP reports. "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." Deere is expecting to report record profits between $5.7 billion and $5.9 billion this year.
Chris Laursen, who works as a painter at Deere, told the Des Moines Register on Wednesday that he thought a strike was imminent and could make a significant difference. "The whole nation’s going to be watching us," 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 contracts under negotiation cover 14 Deere plants across the country, including seven in Iowa, four in Illinois, and one each in Kansas, Colorado, and Georgia.
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