A striking John Deere worker was hit by a car and killed early Wednesday morning while walking to a picket line in Milan, Illinois, according to the man’s union.
The United Auto Workers said the 56-year-old who died was a 15-year veteran of Deere’s parts distribution plant in Milan. After his family was notified, the union refused to reveal his identity.
“Our brother was fighting for what is right and we all mourn for his family and co-workers,” Ron McInroy, a UAW regional director, said in a statement. “Through our tears, we continue to picket and honor the solidarity of our fallen brother. But we do this with heavy hearts today.”
UAW members went on strikeAfter rejecting the tentative contract between their unions and the manufacturer of agricultural equipment, John Deere was voted against on October 18. 10,000 people are affected at the 14 Deere plants across the country. However, many of them cluster in the Quad Cities region of Illinois and Iowa.
To show solidarity, workers have been pickingeting in front of the strike-related factories to discourage substitute workers from going over the line. Picket lines tend to be held at the entrance to facilities.
Milan Police Department declined to provide any additional information when we asked. The Quad City Times reported that the man was crossing Rock Island-Milan Parkway when he was hit by a vehicle around 6 a.m. Deere said in a statement that the company was “saddened by the tragic accident.”
Liz Shuler is the president of AFL-CIO’s labor federation. “lost his life while standing up for dignity and respect on the job.”
In 2019, a General Motors worker in Spring Hill, Tennessee, died after being struck by an SUV on a picket line during the union’s six-week strike against the automaker.
Workers at Deere are calling for higher pay raises and an end to the company’s “two-tier” compensation system that gives newer employees less generous benefits than legacy employees. Already, the company has set record profitsThe strong demand for construction and agricultural equipment and commodity prices boosted the economy this year.