U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has visited the picket line outside the John Deere plant in Ankeny. Vilsack told the UAW members he’s there for them because they were there for him 23 years ago.
The union endorsed Vilsack’s successful 1998 campaign for governor when he was trailing in the polls and Vilsack said that’s something he won’t forget.
Vilsack, a Democrat who served two terms as Iowa’s governor, later told reporters he hopes the strike is resolved quickly and fairly.
During a news conference earlier today at a manufacturing plant in Adel, current Republican Governor Kim Reynolds said she’s confident the union and the company will come to some resolution.
“John Deere is a great company with a phenomenal workforce,” Reynolds said, “and this is part of the collective bargaining process.”
More than 10,000 John Deere workers went on strike last Thursday after rejecting the company’s first contract offer. Negotiations resumed Monday.
“I’m just hopeful that we can find resolution sooner rather than later,” Reynolds told reporters.
Reynolds, who grew up in the St. Charles area, has family members who worked at John Deere during previous strikes. “My dad worked for John Deere for 40 years. My dad’s dad — my grandpa — worked for John Deere for many years. My dad’s brothers, my grandpa’s brothers all worked for John Deere. It was a stressful time when they would go on strike,” Reynolds said. “I had family members on both sides of the issue, but eventually at every point they were able to reach a resolution that really benefits both sides.”
Deere & Co. operates plants in Ankeny, Davenport, Dubuque, Ottumwa and Waterloo. The union is seeking better pay and health care benefits as well as an end to a two-tiered system that pays workers hired in the past 24 years less than those hired before October, 1997.