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UAW strike is underway; Deere without 10k workers
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UAW strike is underway; Deere without 10k workers

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Deere & Co. workers are officially on strike.

According to the local 281 United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America’s (UAW) Facebook page, union representatives did not come to a tentative agreement with Deere by the hard strike deadline of 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.

Talks between UAW and Deere stalled just before a midnight deadline, while workers spent the day making picket signs and bracing for the first major strike by Deere workers since 1986.

At 11:53 p.m., the local 281 UAW Facebook page posted, "Effective 12:00am Local 281 is on strike. Please make sure to show up for your assigned picket duty."

Strikers began forming a picket line at Deere's production facility in Milan about 15 minutes after the deadline expired. 

A barrel and wood were dropped off at the picket site. It will be used to keep picketers warm as more fall-like temperatures are on the way this week. 

The UAW union rejected the company's latest offer on Sunday, with about 90% of the members turning down the contract.

The six-year offer from Deere would have raised wages by roughly 5% over the life of the contract. The deal also increased some benefits. 

The company has offered competitive wages and benefits for all employees, said one Deere executive with knowledge of the negotiations. Every position and employee is unique, the executive said, and Deere is committed to working with the UAW to reach a tentative agreement.

But workers say the company hasn't gone far enough, especially while John Deere enjoys record profits. Union members have also said they've had mandatory overtime, an increasing workload and unsupportive managers.

The strike affects factories in Illinois, Iowa and Kansas. Each Deere plant covered by the contract is organizing its own strike outside of its respective buildings, most of which will begin striking at 6 a.m. Thursday. Once a strike is started at a plant, it will continue for 24 hours a day, seven days a week until an agreement is reached, union leaders have said.

Economists say a strike of significant length could spell trouble for the Quad-Cities economy, home to Deere's world headquarters, thousands of employees and dozens of companies that rely on business with Deere.

In its latest offer, Deere bargained for incremental wage increases over six years, equal to about a $1.20 raise in hourly pay at the end of the six-year contract, according to employees. For the 2020 fiscal year, Deere & Co. net income totaled $2.751 billion, according to the company.

Strike pay will be available for Deere employees. According to the UAW, weekly strike pay is $275 per week, or $55 per day, beginning on the eighth day. A bonus check is paid the week prior to the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

Meanwhile, Deere is reassigning some duties for salaried employees not involved in the strike, according to a salaried employee who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss company matters.

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Picketers with the UAW that represents employees of Deere & Co. gather at the Milan plant at 12:15 a.m. Thursday to begin a strike against…

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