As the clock struck midnight into Thursday, negotiations with John Deere feel though, and thousands of Deere & Company employees walked off the job.

According to UAW Local 281’s Facebook page, the first official picket duty was to start at 2:00 a.m. Thursday. In an announcement on the UAW website, over 10,000 members at John Deere locations set up pickets. 

The strike was months in the making, as UAW members had previously rejected a contract agreement with Deere. The agreement would have covered more than 10,000 workers at 14 facilities, including several here in the QCA. This past year, John Deere was at its most profitable, making nearly six billion dollars, and employees believe their wages don’t reflect that.

“UAW John Deere members have worked through the pandemic after the company deemed them essential, to produce the equipment that feeds America, builds America and powers the American economy,” UAW President Ray Curry said. “These essential UAW workers are showing us all that through the power of a strong united union voice on the picket line they can make a difference for working families here and throughout the country.”

In a press release, John Deere said the company is hopeful about the situation. “We are determined to reach an agreement with the UAW that would put every employee in a better economic position and continue to make them the highest paid employees in the agriculture and construction industries,” Brad Morris, vice president of labor relations for Deere & Company, said. “We will keep working day and night to understand our employees’ priorities and resolve this strike, while also keeping our operations running for the benefit of all those we serve.”

Currently, Deere & Company does not have an estimate of when employees affected by the strike will resume working or the timing for completion of negotiations with the UAW.