Midwestern workers push back amid contract negotiations with manufacturer John Deere

John Deere employees in Illinois and Iowa voted on Sunday for strike authorization amid contract negotiations with the agricultural equipment manufacturer. The move sets the stage for a potential work stoppage with only two weeks left in negotiations between the company and United Auto Workers (UAW) union members in those states. By Tuesday morning, production and maintenance workers had gathered at a John Deere plant in Moline, Illinois for an “informational picket,” WQAD Illinois reports. The contract will affect more than 10,000 employees across 12 facilities. Employees say they’re pushing back against cuts to short-term disability benefits, stricter attendance policies, and increased “legacy costs,” which refer to post-retirement benefits. One third-generation worker told the news station it wasn’t long ago that workers’ fathers, uncles, and grandfathers had been able to retire with a full pension and health care that also covered their spouses. The company’s last contract negotiation was in 2015 and passed with less than 200 votes. The current six-year agreement terminates October 1. The company will submit a new contract on October 10, when employees will take another vote.