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Deere and Co. workers go on strike

MOLINE, IL. (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 by 11:59 p.m. 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.

Brad Morris, vice president of labor relations for Deere, said in a statement that the company is “committed to a favorable outcome for our employees, our communities Department. “We stay commitplants across the United 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.”

Chris Laursen, who works as a painter at Deere, told the Des Moines Register before the strike that it could make a significant difference.

Earlier this year, another group of UAW-represented workers went on strike at a Volvo Trucks plant in Virginia and wound up with

Virginia and wound up with better pay health benefits after rejecting three tentative contract offers.

The contracts under negotiation covered 14 Deere plants across the United  States, 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.

The Deere production plants are an 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 par- ties can come to a resolution soon.”

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