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What's happening with the John Deere negotiations? Workers go on strike

The United Auto Workers John Deere strike is still underway, and negotiations are still ongoing.

MOLINE, Ill. —

October 20

The strike has made it through its first week without much change in its status

Previously, negotiations resumed on Tuesday, October 19, and details are still very limited.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and former Governor of Iowa Tom Vilsack visited a picket line in Ankeny, Iowa to show his support for the union works, saying that he hopes that John Deere and the UAW will be able to reach a fair deal soon.

Vilsack stresses the importance of the issue, noting that the strike heavily impacts farmers how may net to get their hands on parts ahead of the harvest.

"I would be happy to talk to the CEO of John Deere and make sure he understands and appreciates the importance of this dispute to get resolved as quickly as possible and fairly and equitably. because obviously American agriculture is important to have the equipment and the parts needed to continue doing what we do best."

Additionally, a court-ordered injunction has defined what the striking workers can and cannot do, how many are allowed to picket at any given time, and other conduct guidelines.

Negotiations are still underway at an undisclosed location location in Moline. 

October 19

Negotiations resumed for the first time after the union voted to strike last week. Community members and a political hopeful journeyed to the frontlines bringing supplies, food, and support.

Original story - October 13

At the end of the day on Wednesday, October 13,  it was announced that the union had authorized a strike for their members working at John Deere facilities. 

John Deere and union leaders had until midnight to come to an agreement.  A strike was one of three potential outcomes Wednesday night.  They were either going to reach a new contract deal, extend the deadline, or authorize a strike.

UAW Local 74 is on STRIKE!

Posted by UAW Local 74 on Wednesday, October 13, 2021

This decision impacts more than 10,000 Deere & Co. workers. 

RELATED: "We're gathering picket supplies" | John Deere employees brace for a strike, ahead of a looming deadline

The vast majority of the union, 90%, rejected a contract offer on Sunday that would have delivered at least 5% raises. 

Some workers told News 8 that they wanted increased wages, pensions and health care benefits.  The latest version of the contract still did not offer post-retirement health care, but instead the company was offering a bonus. 

"Why would you want to work in a shop that offers no benefits for your later years," said one employee. 

“After weeks of negotiations, John Deere reached tentative agreements with the UAW that would have made the best wages and most comprehensive benefits in our industries significantly better for our employees,” said Brad Morris, vice president of labor relations for Deere & Company. “John Deere remains fully committed to continuing the collective bargaining process in an effort to better understand our employees’ viewpoints."

Roughly 35 years have passed since the last major Deere strike, but workers are emboldened to demand more this year after working long hours throughout the pandemic and because companies are facing worker shortages.

Deere & Company released a statement Thursday morning on the UAW decision to strike.

"John Deere is committed to a favorable outcome for our employees, our communities, and everyone involved," said Brad Morris, vice president of labor relations for Deere & Company. "We are determined to reach an agreement with the UAW 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. 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."

The company said it does not currently have an estimate of when employees affected by the strike will resume working or the timing for completion of negotiations with the UAW.

Early Thursday morning at John Deere Harvester Works in East Moline, a protective barricade was set up around the building as workers on strike began to form picketing lines.

In an attempt to meet consumer demand during the strike, the company has activated its "Customer Service Continuation Plan," which includes employees and others entering factories daily to keep operations running, said Deere & Company News and Editorial Manager Dustin Lemmon.

"Our immediate concern is meeting the needs of our customers, who work in time-sensitive and critical industries such as agriculture and construction," Lemmon said. "By supporting our customers, the CSC Plan also protects the livelihoods of others who rely on us, including employees, dealers, suppliers and communities."