UAW John Deere members struck at midnight on October 14, after the company failed to present an agreement that met the members’ demands and needs prompted the largest private-sector walkout since 49,000 UAW members struck General Motors for forty-one days in 2019.
“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.”
UAW President Ray Curry, said “The almost one million UAW retirees and active members stand in solidarity with the striking UAW members at John Deere.”
Democrats and mayors who are elected in nonpartisan races in cities with Deere plants quickly began issuing statements and tweeting after the strike began.
“Overnight, workers at John Deere factories around Iowa made their voices heard and decided to take a stand and fight for a fair contract. I’m proud to stand in solidarity with our UAW brothers and sisters,” said Iowa Democratic Party Chair Ross Wilburn. “My father was a United Auto Worker member at International Harvester in East Moline. Back in 1979 he took part in one of the longest strikes in the Quad Cities with International Harvester. I was a sophomore at Davenport Central High School at the time, but I remember the frustration and the challenges our family and others faced during the strike.”
“It’s important to remember that going on strike is the very last thing that workers want to do,” said Wilburn. “It’s costly, and it’s difficult for working families because they’re not getting a paycheck, but following a year where John Deere made record profits and their CEO got a 160% raise, workers deserve to share in the family’s financial success.”
“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,” said Curry. “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.”
Over 10,000 members at John Deere locations set up pickets.
“Pickets have been set up and our members are organized and ready to hold out and fight for a contract they believe meets their needs,” said Ron McInroy, director of UAW Region 4. “Our members and their families appreciate the community support they have already gotten. Strikes are not easy, but some things are worth fighting for.”
“These are skilled, tedious jobs that UAW members take pride in every day,” said Mitchell Smith, UAW Region 8 director. “Strikes are never easy on workers or their families but John Deere workers believe they deserve a better share of the pie, a safer workplace, and adequate benefits.”