More than 10,000 unionized Deere & Co. employees went on strike early Thursday across Midwest plants that manufacture John Deere tractors and other agriculture equipment.
The strike impacts 14 factories in Illinois, Iowa and Kansas, where workers will picket outside their respective buildings until an agreement is reached.
In Davenport, Iowa, Local 281 United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America did not come to a tentative agreement with Deere by the strike deadline of 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, according to the union’s Facebook page.
At 11:53 p.m., the Local 281 UAW page posted: “Effective 12:00am Local 281 is on strike. Please make sure to show up for your assigned picket duty.”
Brad Morris, vice president of labor relations for Deere in a statement released Thursday morning said the company is “committed to a favorable outcome for our employees, our communities, and everyone involved.”
The company, Morris said, is “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.”
In response to the strike, the company in another statement said it had activated its Customer Service Continuation Plan, which will allow employees to enter factories daily and keep operations running.
“Our immediate concern is meeting the needs of our customers, who work in time-sensitive and critical industries such as agriculture and construction,” the company said. “By supporting our customers, the CSC Plan also protects the livelihoods of others who rely on us, including employees, dealers, suppliers, and communities.”
The strike comes after a majority of UAW workers on Oct. 10 rejected a new contract from Deere, which in fiscal year 2020 had a net income of $2.751 billion.
Agriculture equipment sales in the United States last month were healthy, according to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.
September sales of farm tractors were at 25,301 units and self-propelled combines were at 848 units, according to data released this week by AEM.
Both figures were up from last month and from Sept. 2020.