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More than 10,000 workers at US Deere factories went on strike Thursday, marking the first major walkout at the tractor manufacturer in 35 years after workers rejected a draft collective agreement.

The United Auto Workers union said its members officially went on strike at midnight and began forming picket lines outside John Deere factories. The strike affected 14 facilities in Illinois, Iowa and Kansas.

Dozens of workers picket lines Thursday morning at factories in Moline, Ill., According to the Quad-City Times, a local outlet. UAW Local 838, which represents workers at Deere’s largest factory in Waterloo, Iowa, said on its Facebook page that members were to report on “strike duty” at 7 a.m. morning, local time.

Brad Morris, vice president of labor relations at Deere, said the company was “determined to make a deal with the UAW that would put every employee in a better economic position and continue to make them the highest paid employees in the world. the agriculture and construction sectors. “

On an employee website, Deere said some workers would enter its factories daily to continue operations. “Our immediate concern is to meet the needs of our customers, who work in critical and time sensitive industries such as agriculture and construction,” he said.

UAW vice president Chuck Browning said workers were on strike for “the ability to earn a decent living, retire with dignity and establish fair labor rules.” Ray Curry, union president, added that Deere employees have worked throughout the pandemic to produce essential agricultural, construction and energy equipment.

The UAW tentatively agreed to a new employment contract two weeks ago, but a majority of its members rejected the deal in a ratification vote.

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