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John Deere union workers in Dubuque go on strike as negotiators fail to reach agreement on new contract

Published: Oct. 15, 2021 at 4:44 AM CDT
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - John Deere Dubuque Works union employees left their jobs and moved instead to the picket lines as midnight passed without a new contract between the United Auto Workers (UAW) union and Deere.

While some chanted, others, like Wesley Rainer, brought supplies to keep striking workers fed and hydrated. Rainer owns a hot dog stand in town.

”I just came down to drop off some waters to the fellas and the ladies,” he mentioned. “I am a member of the union and I am a proud member and we are just asking for a comparable wage, what we deserve.”

Rainer said, however, he is disappointed the situation has escalated to the point of having to strike. This is the first strike at John Deere since 1986.

”It is disappointing because we never expected it to go this far,” Rainer added. “It is a shame we’re at this point right now.”

A spokesperson with the UAW said employees were striking for the ability to earn what they call “a decent living, retire with dignity, and establish fair work rules”. That is something Rainer agrees with, especially a year into the pandemic.

”We worked through a pandemic and it has been a rough year for everybody,” he said. “We went through a pandemic, a lot of people worked, never missed a day, never was late. I think we should be rewarded for that.”

”Last year we were so essential. Just show us how essential now when we need y’all the most and our families need you. That is all we are asking for.“

Wesley Rainer, UAW union member

Whether it was through honks or waves from cars, many people driving by the picket lines showed their support to the union workers, who were separated into groups in different parts of the area.

“I feel proud, man,” Rainer confessed. “It is good to have some support from the community because we are not asking for much. It has been a rough year for everybody. We are just asking to be fairly compensated so we can live comfortably because a lot of people break their backs for this job.”

The union reported that 90 percent of its members rejected a tentative agreement with Deere back on Sunday.

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