UAW considers safety after striking Deere worker’s death Wednesday

Local News

A striking John Deere worker died after a vehicle hit him while walking to the picket line around 6 a.m. Wednesday. UAW members are mourning the loss of Richard Rich, 56, who was a member of Local 79
and a 15-year employee at the Milan John Deere parts distribution plant.

A wreath includes Richard Rich’s photo at a memorial in Milan. (photo by Kalani Bowles.)

Coworkers, friends and loved ones have stopped by the memorial site to pay their respects. UAW workers described him as a family man who was a devoted Deere worker, even while on strike.

Milan police reported the driver involved is cooperating with investigators, who are also talking with several witnesses to the crash. No charges related to the union member’s death have been announced.

Both the UAW and John Deere shared sympathies for union members Wednesday after Rich’s death. Many across the Quad Cities are mourning the death of this union worker today, and some UAW members and their families say they are now concerned about safety when they return to the picket lines.

One union member said those driving by strikers should slow down, pay attention and watch out for them, adding strikers may be hard to see when it’s dark out, as many of them are bundled up, wearing dark winter clothing.

A spokesperson for the UAW said that all members who are involved in picket line duty go through safety training.

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