Some 10,000 unionized workers at Deere & Company went on strike early Thursday after overwhelmingly rejecting a contract proposal worked out with the company by negotiators for the United Automobile Workers union.
“Our members at John Deere strike for the ability to earn a decent living, retire with dignity and establish fair work rules,” Chuck Browning, the director of the union’s agricultural department, said in a statement. “We stay committed to bargaining until our members’ goals are achieved.”
The strike deadline was announced on Sunday after the union said its members had voted down the tentative agreement reached on Oct. 1 with the company, which makes the John Deere brand of tractors. Union negotiators had characterized the proposal as providing “significant economic gains” and “the highest quality health care benefits in the industry.”
Looming over the negotiation is a suspicion among rank-and-file workers toward the international union resulting from a series of scandals in recent years involving corruption within the union and illegal payoffs to union officials from executives at the company then known as Fiat Chrysler. The scandals led to more than 15 convictions, including those of two recent U.A.W. presidents.