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What can picketers do while striking against John Deere?

There are rules to follow while on the picket lines if union members want to receive their strike pay.

MOLINE, Ill. — There are plenty of laws and rules to follow when it comes to a legal strike. For Union members striking John Deere, they're expressing their constitutional right to picket. 

Loyola University Chicago professor of employment Relations Peter Norlander said it's a way for these workers to show the company how they feel about their jobs. 

"The rights that they have to do this in the United States are embedded in our Constitution," Norlander said.  

But it doesn't come without rules. For union members that don't follow them, they run the risk of missing out on their strike pay. 

"The union has a duty to educate its members on what the rules of conduct are that are acceptable," Norlander said. 

The right to free speech gives these pickers the ability to stand outside the Deere facilities, but the basic laws of freedom of speech remain in place. 

"The rights of speech have limits," Norlander said. "And those include limits around harassment and threats. To block traffic or to block free passage of individuals is not allowed. So when other people are entering the facilities, for example they have a right to passage." 

So long as picketers follow the basic rules of freedom of speech and show up for their assigned picket times, they can most likely receive strike pay. Each member is paid $275 dollars weekly after the eighth day of striking. 

There are rules for John Deere to follow, too. The big one being that they are allowed to hire employees to fill the vacant positions of workers on the picket lines. 

Labor attorney Gerald Golden said it's legal for them to do what is needed to hire help to keep production moving. 

"The strikers will have to take into consideration if they're willing to stay out on strike," Golden said. "potentially, replacements taking their jobs." 

However, it doesn't come without potential risks. 

"A strike replacement usually triggers demonstrations by the strikers efforts to discourage replacements from crossing the picket line and going to work in their place," Golden said. "So it raises the potential of turmoil and diminishes the likelihood of the strike settling soon."

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