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.