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Ag Secretary Vilsack visits Deere workers on strike

Legislators also chime in on strike by John Deere workers demanding increased wages.

Jacqui Fatka, Policy editor

October 22, 2021

2 Min Read
Vilsack Deere strike.jpg
STANDING WITH DEERE WORKERS: USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack met with the men and women of United Auto Workers Local 450 as they continue their fight for a fair wage, better benefits and a secure retirement at the John Deere Des Moines Works, in Ankeny, Iowa, on October 20.USDA photo by Lance Cheung

While in Iowa, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack offered his support to union members picketing at the John Deere plant in Ankeny asking for higher wages and more secured retirement pensions. This is the first John Deere employee strike in 35 years.

The former Iowa governor told the United Auto Workers Local 450 picketing at the Ankeny John Deere plant he wanted to support them like they supported him in his campaign.

“John Deere is a great company,” Vilsack says, but adds that company executives ought to be able to “get to a point where it’s fair to workers to make sure we continue to have the equipment and farm machinery that is important to American agriculture.”

For over a week, John Deere workers across the country, including at its plants in Iowa, Illinois and Kansas, have been on strike as they negotiate improved contract conditions. The CEO makes $30 million a year and the company saw profits of $5.7 to $5.9 billion in 2020. Vilsack says he was open to holding a meeting with the CEO of John Deere to ensure the parts and equipment farmers rely on can continue to be made.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., also took to twitter to offer his support of the John Deere workers. A video offered testimonies from workers on their desire to see a more equitable pay scale for workers compared to the CEOs.

"I don't think anybody doesn't want to see John Deere make profits — we know that the golden goose has to lay golden eggs. But man, it's time to share some of the gold," one worker states.

Earlier in the week, Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa also picketed with the workers, offering her support.



About the Author(s)

Jacqui Fatka

Policy editor, Farm Futures

Jacqui Fatka grew up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in southwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications, with a minor in agriculture education, in 2003. She’s been writing for agricultural audiences ever since. In college, she interned with Wallaces Farmer and cultivated her love of ag policy during an internship with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, working in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Capitol Hill press office. In 2003, she started full time for Farm Progress companies’ state and regional publications as the e-content editor, and became Farm Futures’ policy editor in 2004. A few years later, she began covering grain and biofuels markets for the weekly newspaper Feedstuffs. As the current policy editor for Farm Progress, she covers the ongoing developments in ag policy, trade, regulations and court rulings. Fatka also serves as the interim executive secretary-treasurer for the North American Agricultural Journalists. She lives on a small acreage in central Ohio with her husband and three children.

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