UAW Local 79 returned to picket lines Thursday

Local News

UAW Local 79 returned to picket lines

Following suspension of picketing duties Wednesday after the death of a UAW striker, UAW Local 79 returned to the picket lines around noon Thursday.

Richard Rich, 56, a member of Local 79 and 15-year employee at John Deere, was struck in a traffic accident and fatally injured early Wednesday while walking to the picket line. Following the accident, UAW Local 79 President Sherrard Robinson announced on the UAW Region 4 Facebook page the cancellation of picketing for Local 79 for the remainder of Wednesday.

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

A memorial for Rich was set up in Milan, and 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.

Memorial in Milan for Richard Rich

“On behalf of the UAW and all working families, we mourn the passing of our UAW brother,” Ray Curry, UAW president, said. “It is a somber time to lose a member who made the ultimate sacrifice in reporting to picket for a better life for his family and coworkers.”

Deere & Company issued a statement following Rich’s death. “We are saddened by the tragic accident and death of one of our employees who was struck by a vehicle before dawn this morning while crossing the Milan Beltway,” Jen Hartmann, director of public relations and enterprise social media, said. “All of us at John Deere express our deepest condolences to their family and friends.”

UAW members walked off their jobs at John Deere and began picketing October 14, following a rejected contract agreement with Deere & Company. The agreement would have covered more than 10,000 workers at 14 facilities, including several here in the QCA. More than ten thousand UAW members nationwide are now on strike.

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