More than 10K John Deere employees go on strike Thursday

More than 10,000 Deere & Company workers went on strike Thursday after the company allegedly "failed to present an agreement that met" the demands and needs of union members.

The United Auto Workers union said its members – who are seeking an improved standard of living, retirement benefits and a better work environment – would walk off the job by 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 13 if a deal wasn't reached.

However, a vast majority of the union members, about 90%, rejected a tentative agreement reached by the union and John Deere earlier this week even though it would have delivered 5% raises to some workers and 6% raises to others.

"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 of UAW’s Agricultural Implement Department. "We stay committed to bargaining until our members’ goals are achieved." 

Thousands of members have already set up pickets at John Deere locations and are "ready to hold out and fight for a contract they believe meets their needs," said Ron McInroy, director of UAW Region 4.   

Meanwhile, Deere & Company vice president of labor relations Brad Morris said the company is committed to "a favorable outcome for our employees, our communities, and everyone involved."

Morris added that the company is looking to reach an agreement "that would put every employee in a better economic position and continue to make them the highest-paid employees in the agriculture and construction industries." 

The strike, which covers about 14 Deere plants across the United States, has drawn concerns from local officials. 

The Deere production plants are important contributors to the economy, so local officials hope any strike will be short-lived.

"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-Cities Times. "Hopefully, these parties can come to a resolution soon."


The Associated Press contributed to this report.