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Iowa Senate Democrats

Judge Limits John Deere Picketing to Four People

Judge's ruling severely limits UAW members ability to picket John Deere in Iowa

Brian Young's picture
Oct 21, 2021

On October 14th, 10,000 UAW workers at John Deere went on strike. The nationwide strike is the largest job action in two years and has shut down production at the company. With talks stalled between the union and the company, John Deere’s parent company Deere & Company has gone running to the courts to limit the union’s ability to picket the factory.

On Wednesday, October 20th, an Iowa Judge decided to agree with the company and issue a temporary injunction to limit the union members' ability to picket outside of the facility. In the 11-page decision, the Judge limited picket lines to just four people at each gate of the facility. The order barred workers from the property until an agreement is reached and barred the union from “unlawful mass picketing and/or parading, verbal and physical harassment, intimidation, vandalism, blocking, or impeding human and vehicular traffic to and from Davenport Works." They are also required to name captains to watch the picket lines 24/7 throughout the strike to ensure compliance with the judge's rules. Striking members were also barred from picketing outside of the contractor gate.

The union has been given three days to provide the court with proof that they are following these rules. If an individual does not follow the order, they could face a $500 fine and up to 6 months in jail. Currently, the order only covers the Davenport Iowa location, but reports have stated that the company is looking to get a similar one at their other Iowa facilities. John Deere workers are also on strike in Illinois, Kansas, Georgia, and Colorado.

"It's divide & conquer,” said one of the John Deere workers to Labor Notes reporter Jonah Furman. “We are viewed as the softest target for an injunction to be successfully implemented, thus opening the door to stifling Harvester (Local 865) and Seeding (Local 434) across the river..."

It appears that the push for the injunction came after a photo went viral on the internet of Local 434 workers blocking scabs from accessing the plant.

 

Workers also tell Furman that some have stopped receiving their CIPP payments. These are quarterly payments that are made based on work that was previously done before the strike. Furman estimates that if John Deere stopped making all of these payments across the company it would result in potentially tens of millions of dollars being stolen from the workers. Strikers were also informed that John Deere would be cutting of their health insurance. Both of these tactics are being used to starve the members and inflict the largest amount of pain on them and their families so that the union will accept a bad contract.

With the new restrictions on picketing, workers have put out a call not only for support from community members in the area, who joined in a large rally and march on Thursday through the Quad Cities but also for rain ponchos and high vis vests. Since numbers will be limited on the picket line, these vests will help workers stand out more and hopefully prevent a tragedy like the CWA experienced during their 1989 NYNEX strike when a worker was killed on the picket line. UAWD has also established a Go Fund Me Strike Fund that people outside of the area can donate to.

The Do's and Dont's of Supporting a Strike

On Wednesday, the UAW members also got an important visit from US Agriculture Secretary and former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack. Secretary Vilsack briefly met workers at the Ankeny Iowa plant and said that he would be willing to speak with Deere & Co.'s CEO to make sure he "understands and appreciates" the importance of resolving the historic strike happening at its factories. Vilsack was in Iowa to meet with his Mexican counterpart about trade agreements. He made a surprise appearance on the picket line because of the role the union and its members played in getting him elected. “I was running for governor in this state and I was 23 points behind with a couple of weeks to go in the race,” Vilsack said, talking about the 1998 Iowa gubernatorial race, “Throughout that entire process I had great support from UAW – the men and women who work in plants across this state. You don’t forget the men and women who gave you an opportunity to serve. You just don’t.”

UCOMM is still collecting video messages to the striking workers. Click here to record a video message.

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