MOLINE, Ill. — John Deere production and maintenance workers gathered Tuesday morning for what they called an "informational picket".
This comes after Deere employees apart of the United Auto Workers (U-A-W) Union in Waterloo voted to pass a strike authorization over a contract that affects more than 10,000 workers across 12 Deere facilities.
Third generation Deere employee, Tim Niedert, said he wants the same benefits his father and grandfather received.
“We are not too far removed from the generation that our grandfathers our fathers our uncles retired from John Deere with a fully supplemented pension and post retirement health care, and could pass that on to surviving spouses,” Niedert said.
John Deere’s last contract negotiation was in 2015, where it passed with less than 200 votes.
“There was a pretty blatant attack on our benefits they want us to pay more for our benefits. There's things they want to take away from us -- our job security provisions. They want to erode our seniority rights and consolidate job classifications,” Niedert said.
While there are many areas of the contract employees want to negotiate, "legacy costs" are a large focus. This includes post-retirement health care and a full pension plan.
The U-A-W did not sanction the picketing, but the event was still lawful.
“This is, you know, a protected activity. It is protected by the National Labor Relations Board. We're not anti John Deere, we want the company to do well.
John Deere made a comment in regards to the picketing, stating:
"John Deere respects its employees’ desire to voice their opinions. One of the things that has made John Deere’s relationship with our employees and the U-A-W strong for nearly 80 years is our shared interest in better understanding one another’s views. This mutual respect has allowed us to reach collective bargaining agreements that provide our employees with the opportunity to earn the best wages and most comprehensive benefits in our industries, while also maintain our competitiveness in an increasingly challenging environment. We remain committed to this approach in our ongoing negotiations with the U-A-W."
John Deere will propose a new contract on October 10th, where employees will take another vote.