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UAW workers nationwide backed John Deere strikers with caravan

UAW workers from across the U.S. joined the picket lines in East Moline to support John Deere strikers.

EAST MOLINE, Ill. — UAW members from across the U.S. joined the picket lines Tuesday night, Oct. 19 in East Moline with a car caravan in support of John Deere strikers.

Supporters provided food and supplies to help strikers make it through their shift on the 6th day of the strike against John Deere. Strikers filled the street with screams and enthusiasm, as cars honked their horns for hours.

UAW members from out of state said they know what it feels like to be on strike and wanted to help.

“I just wanted to come down here and give any of my knowledge and my support to these guys and let him know that they're not alone," said Chadd Fabbro, a Flint, Michigan, UAW member.

Caravan organizer Gregg Johnson said union employees deserve better treatment and pay from their employers.

“The reason people in the private sector make what they make is because of the sacrifices made by our union brothers and sisters for the last several decades," said Johnson.

Johnson's team of UAW members said they were prepared to support John Deere strikers for as long as they need.

“We got people dropping off food, feet warmers and hand warmers," Johnson said. "We're ready for winter, if that's what we have to do until people are starting to get treated fairly. That's why we'll be out here every single day."

New York-based UAW member Cleveland Jones said, though he can't be in the Quad Cities every day of the strike, he will continue to offer his support from afar.

“Whether we're here physically or whether we're here in spirit, we're going to support them," Jones said. "We're going to support them on social media, we're going to encourage them, we're going to give donations or whatever they ask for."

One union member from New Orleans said it was a big deal to make the decision to strike, as it impacts families significantly. 

“It's a big sacrifice first, to come out here walk off the job and come out here to strike," said Larry Guerra. "People think it's just a game. It's not a game."

 A retired UAW employee said he was shocked by the union members' energy and how determined they were to get what they deserve.

"I've never seen anything like this in my lifetime, and I'm 77-years-old," said Donald DeLoose. "They'll stay out here until a second winter. They're not going back to work.”

John Deere's original contract offer was declined by over 90% of the union employees on Oct. 10. Among top negotiations concerns were benefits, health care and post-retirement pensions.

Find WQAD's full coverage of the John Deere contract negotiations here.

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