More than 10,000 John Deere workers go on strike in US

Union members emboldened by tractor manufacturer's record profits and national worker shortage

More than 10,000 workers from Deere & Co., the US company famous for making green tractors, have gone on strike after company representatives and the United Auto Workers union failed to agree a new labour contract.

The strike, which began early on Thursday, comes after a tentative agreement was rejected that would have covered employees at 14 facilities across the US.

The last major Deere strike was 35 years ago, 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,” Vice President and Director of the union’s agricultural implement department Chuck Browning said in a Facebook post.

“We stay committed to bargaining until our members’ goals are achieved.”

The striking Deere workers represent about 14 per cent of the Moline, Illinois-based company’s global workforce.

Workers are seeking better compensation just as US companies face labour shortages and global supply-chain snags threaten profits.

“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,” Deere’s Vice President of labour relations Brad Morris said in a statement, adding that the company would keep operations running while negotiations continued.

Deere shares have risen 39 per cent in the past year amid a rally in crop prices that has buoyed farmer earnings and demand for tractors.

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.

Updated: October 14th 2021, 3:26 PM