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UAW members go on strike after not agreeing to contract with John Deere

John Deere employees are on strike for the first time since 1986.

MOLINE, Ill — John Deere employees will go on strike after United Auto Workers Union (UAW) members did not come to an agreement on the proposed contract at the 11:59 p.m. deadline on Wednesday, October 13th.

UAW Local 74 is on STRIKE!

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

Negotiations continued to go back and forth this week between UAW and Deere executives, after an agreed upon contract was voted down by nearly 90% of union employees on October 10.

United Auto Workers (UAW) union members previously voted for a strike authorization by an overwhelming margins on Sept. 12. The decision comes after the previous contract between Deere and UAW passed the approval cutoff by less than 200 votes out of the 10,000 eligible voters in 2015.

This decision affects 10,000 workers at 12 John Deere plants in five states and 11 cities, five of which are located in Iowa and three in Illinois.

Many union members spoke to News 8 throughout the negotiation process and expressed their frustrations.

"We aren't asking to be millionaires, we are asking for fair wages, a pension and post-retirement health care," said an employee. "After 30 years or more of giving your body to a company and moving 1,000 pound castings around or assembling tractors, it rips your body apart. It's not unreasonable to not want to have that worry in life of, 'what if?'"

The last time John Deere employees went on strike was in 1986. It was a lengthy, and at times violent strike, that lasted 163 days.

News 8 was live at the scene of the John Deere Harvester Works in East Moline early Thursday morning, Oct. 14, where workers on strike began to line up and John Deere set up a protective barricade around the building.

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.

News 8 was the first Quad Cities news station to report this story, and will continue to provide updates.