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Community rallies against John Deere Davenport Works injunction

Members across the Quad Cities community organized a rally to support John Deere union workers.

DAVENPORT, Iowa — Members of the Quad Cities community gathered following an Iowa judge's decision to grant an injunction against picketers involved in the John Deere strike, which which enters its eighth day.

The injunction was signed Wednesday, Oct. 20 and applies to Deere's Davenport Works location. It limits the amount of picketers to just four people present at each of the facility's two gates and also eliminates burn barrels, food piles and even chairs.

Deere alleges that picketers at the Works location have been physically and verbally harassing anyone near the property.

RELATED: Court order skims down number of union picketers allowed at John Deere Davenport Works

In response, community members rallied at the Scott County Courthouse on Thursday, Oct. 21 to show support for union workers and send a message to both Deere and the Iowa legal system.

The turnout reached about 40 people, which is a little smaller than what community members expected.

The original location was suppose to be at the Davenport Works site, not the courthouse. There was a fear of repercussions for breaking any injunction rules, which is why the location was moved.

That didn't stop those in attendance from speaking out on the issues regardless of where the rally was held.

"Hopefully, everybody in the community will be able to come together because the union members can't," Quad Cities Interfaith Executive Director Amber Bordolo said. "It's about people having a seat at the table and making sure demands are heard and making sure they make a living wage."

Union members did not organize the event, instead it was the community who put it together.

"That's kind of what this is, to let the workers know that we support them," said Bordolo. "Even though there was an attempt to silence their voices, we can step up and fill in that space when needed."

Pastors and organization leaders from across the Quad Cities were among those in attendance who said the injunction was not fair and silenced union members.

According to the injunction, if the union or a member was found violating the terms, they could face six months in jail and/or a $500 fine. 

Read the full court order here.

"It seemed like a manipulative thing," Reverend Jay Wolin said of the injunction. "We want to make sure that they are treated fairly, and they can make a living to support their family."

Wolin, a faith leader at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Quad Cities, added that union members are his neighbors and friends. 

"These are people we care about," he said. "And we want to make sure that they are treated fairly, that they can earn a living to support their family, which then supports our community. People matter and corporations are made up of people."

RELATED: GoFundMe for striking John Deere workers raises more than $50,000 in 3 days

"I saw more power on that picket line from regular working people, than I ever have on city council," Rock Island Alderman Dylan Parker said.

The impact of the strike didn't just affect one worker involved. It created a chain reaction for everyone else in that person's life, whom friends and family depend on.

Vickie Aguilar said she was one of those people feeling the effects, with her husband and two sons being Deere employees on strike.

"When you're on strike, your families are on strike," Aguilar said. "It's hard, it's nerve racking. My sleep has been a little bit hard because of the 'what if's?', but we're union strong. We're a family, we're behind all our brothers and sisters in the Union."

Aguilar said all three of her family members work at the John Deere Parts Distribution Center in Milan. She said watching the company turn to the courts felt 'like a joke.' 

"They need to worry about going back to the table and get going with negotiations and quit using the legal systems," she said. "That's a big company using the legal system to take care of issues." 

Aguilar said the community has always been a supporter of Deere and she feels the company, "has turned its back on the everyday workers." She said she hoped a show of community support, in Deere's own backyard, would send a message. 

"Deere is here. And our community has always been a supporter of Deere," she argued. "And for Deere to turn their backs on the everyday workers … that's completely wrong." 

The strike already had some people fired up, and the injunction increased frustrations after Deere said the damages the company suffered from picketers at Davenport Works outweighed the damages union members have faced during their strike.

John Deere requested a similar injunction against union picketers at its Ankeny plant. The company said picketers have blocked cars in and out of that plant location and alleged workers on strike have been picketing where they're not legally allowed to do so. 

A judge has yet to make a decision on the Ankeny injunction request.

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