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Polk County judge weighs John Deere strike injunction request

Union attorneys argued the actions of only a few were represented in video evidence, with those on strike going through picketing training.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Attorneys for John Deere argued Thursday that picketers in Polk County are obstructing access to the company's property, with the United Auto Workers union stating the individuals in question were removed from the strike line.

Video shown in court identified a few individuals standing in front of vehicles driving into Deere facilities, which the company argued was a safety hazard.

But union attorneys believe the actions of only a few were represented in video evidence, as those on strike had gone through picketing training.

"The reality is after eight days of surveillance they have 24/7 cameras on the picket line, the best evidence they could show this court is three to five seconds... two vehicles were slightly delayed. That's it," said Nate Boulton, an attorney for UAW.

"We aren't asking to prevent picketing, we're asking for help in order to keep roadways from being blocked and impeded," said Ben Roach, an attorney for John Deere. "There's enough evidence of close calls before someone gets hurt."

A judge in Scott County approved an injunction to limit the number of picketers on Wednesday.

A ruling will be issued in the coming days in Polk County.

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In Ottumwa, workers remained positive and confident in their decision to strike. They told Local 5 they are trying to follow all the rules. 

Drivers continued to honk their horns as they traveled by, and an area restaurant supplied lunch in somewhat cold temperatures.

The three items the strikers are adamant they are fighting for are wages, health care and pensions. 

"It's one thing to feel like 'Hey we need to stand up' but we're doing it. And it's a beautiful thing. Everybody is sticking together, everybody's got each other's back," said Toby Munley, a John Deere employee. "What John Deere has ultimately done here is it brought us closer together. And I actually can't wait to get back to working so that we can have this same atmosphere inside the factory."

The group is looking to get a permit to have some warming equipment and tents on site

Watch complete coverage of the John Deere labor strike on YouTube