Farmers worry about impact John Deere strike might mean for farm parts

Farmers worry about impact of John Deere strike.
Farmers worry about impact of John Deere strike.(Brian Tabick/KCRG)
Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 10:54 PM CDT
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WATERLOO, Iowa (KCRG) - “Be prepared for your strike duties” was the message the Local 383 United Auto Workers union in Waterloo posted to the John Deere employees it represents.

The company’s 10,000 employees were far apart from management on retirement, health care, and pay. The impact of the strike, if it happens, ripples far beyond the workers, stockholders, and the company.

John Airy, a Linn County farmer, said it has been difficult to get farm equipment parts because of the impact COVID-19 has had on the supply chain. Airy has driven John Deere tractors since the 1990s and follows in his father and grandfather before him.

“I’ve always liked the service and the part availability,” Airy said. “It has been a good reliable machine.”

Recently, Airy bought a new John Deere tractor and needed parts. He spoke to his manufacturer Wednesday morning about what a potential strike might mean for him getting his new machine.

“The salesperson there said they didn’t know much,” Airy said. “They have heard the same headlines I have, but they didn’t have any insight.”

Airy wasn’t too worried about harvest season for himself; he has another working combine but said some farmers aren’t in the same position.

“If you had a part that was not a highly stocked part, things could be brought to a grinding halt,” Airy said. “If you can’t get it from John Deere because of the strike, that could become a real issue for somebody. They could be going from working to sitting and waiting for parts.”

John Deere released a statement to KCRG-TV9 saying it has activated its Customer Service Continuation Plan that will have employees keep daily operations running at its factories. The statement says in part:

“Our immediate concern is meeting the needs of our customers, who work in time-sensitive and critical industries such as agriculture and construction. “By supporting our customers, the CSC Plan also protects the livelihoods of others who rely on us, including employees, dealers, suppliers, and communities.”

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