Deere and Company won a temporary injunction Wednesday against striking union workers at its Davenport Works plant.
Deere filed for the injunction in Iowa District Court for Scott County, against the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, Local 281; its president Travis Hanrahan, and all other relevant parties involved in the strike activities.
The decision, from Chief District Judge Marlita Greve, ordered that the union and its members are prohibited from:
- trespassing on Deere’s property at Davenport Works or the driveways leading to Davenport Works from the public roads;
- obstructing the ways of ingress and egress to and from Deere premises, bodily or through the use of physical objects or in any other way;
- picketing, loitering, or congregating near the contractor gate entrance;
- engaging in unlawful activities including unlawful mass picketing and/or parading, verbal and physical harassment, intimidation, vandalism, blocking, or impeding human and vehicular traffic to and from Davenport Works, and any other activity resulting in the infringement of company rights and disruption of business operations;
- damaging, obstruction or otherwise making unusable or unsafe any part of Deere’s facility;
- damaging the vehicles or property of Deere’s guests, agents, employees, or contractors, or threatening damage to the vehicles or property;
- threatening or harassing any non-striking employees, drivers, vendors or customers who are lawfully conducting business with Deere;
- picketing, loitering, or congregating at or near any entrance to or exit from the property in numbers larger than four;
- advising, encouraging, or participating in any of the above-mentioned acts;
- committing any other unlawful or disruptive acts this Court deems appropriate for injunctive relief.
The judge’s order also states:
- The Union shall designate a responsible person as the captain who shall at all times be present at the picket line and who shall control the conduct of all pickets and limit the number of picketers to no more than four (4) peaceful picketers at each gate (two on each side).
- The Union shall not start fires, bring wood or other debris, material or fuel, whether or not in barrels, use chairs or other similar items, and shall obey instructions of law enforcement and police officers. The Union shall, prior to leaving a picket site, police and remove any and all debris.
- The Union and its members shall be advised a violation of this injunction may result in the Union or any member being found in contempt of court for violating this order and could result in jail time up to six months and/or a fine of up to $500.
Deere spokeswoman Jen Hartmann said Wednesday following the ruling:
“Deere & Co. was granted an order for temporary injunction to maintain a safe environment for all our employees and contractors – including those reporting to work and those exercising their right to strike. This temporary injunction was put in place to provide safe entry and exit to the John Deere Davenport Works facility.”
The order will not affect ongoing contract talks, Hartmann added. “We are fully committed to reach a mutually beneficial agreement with the UAW,” she said, noting the injunction also does not impact other Deere facilities.
Last Deere contract expired Oct. 1
The collective bargaining agreement between Deere and the UAW (representing about 10,000 employees) expired on Oct. 1, 2021. Deere and representatives of the Union have been engaged in negotiations to renew the Union’s contract, but they have been unable to agree to a new contract.
Deere’s motion for temporary injunction said that union members “have trespassed and have engaged in mass picketing thereby blocking ingress and egress to parking lots and plant entrances. Union members have prevented or attempted to prevent or hinder non-striking employees, customers and/or suppliers from entering or exiting Davenport Works.”
“They have screamed through megaphones and other audible enhancing devices, paraded in the public road up leading to Davenport Works with banners and signs, impeded customers or contractors from attempting to enter and leave Davenport Works and have otherwise blocked the free flow of traffic on the public highways and/or into and out of Davenport Works,” the company petition said.
“They have committed acts of verbal and physical harassment, intimidation, mass picketing and other direct and indirect forms of intimidating acts and threaten to continue these acts. Deere’s non-striking employees, vendors and customers have been unable to safely enter and exit Davenport Works without fear of blocking or damage to themselves or others, including to their persons or property.”
The Union members did not have authorization, license or permission to enter or block access to Deere’s property for the purposes described above, or for any other reason, and do not currently have authorization, license or permission to engage in the acts described above to the detriment of Deere’s rights, the petition says.
Deere has attempted to resolve the Union members’ continued unlawful acts through non-judicial means, including issuing cease-and-desist demands to the Union and its members, and verbally asking Union members to remove themselves from Deere’s property and neutral gates and to refrain from committing unlawful acts, the petition says, noting the company has also contacted law enforcement.
“Despite these efforts, the Union members’ unlawful acts continue unabated, and the Union members refuse to cease these acts absent a court order,” the company attorney, Mikkie R. Schiltz (of Lane & Waterman), wrote.
“Having exhausted all available options, application to this Court for injunctive relief is appropriate. Deere is not seeking injunctive relief against non-disruptive and peaceful Union strike picketers,” the petition says, noting Deere “has suffered and will continue to suffer substantial and irreparable injury by preventing Deere from lawfully managing, controlling and operating its business.”
“The injuries to Deere outweigh the relative hardship to the Union and its members if they are enjoined from trespassing on Deere’s private property or otherwise engaging in unlawful acts in violation of Deere’s rights,” the petition says.
This case shall remain open on the docket of the Court (in the Seventh Judicial District of Iowa) until such time as the Union and Deere conclude their bargaining, at which time Deere shall cause this case to be dismissed, the order says.