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‘Strike pay’ explained; UAW members say they’ve been prepared to picket for months

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 11:46 PM CDT
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EAST MOLINE, Ill. (KWQC) - Thousands of UAW members continued their strike outside John Deere facilities Thursday after negotiations fell through late Wednesday night.

When John Deere employees are on the picket line, they get “strike pay.”

Strike pay is $275 per week, starting on the eighth day of a strike according to UAW.

Some union members told TV6′s Montse Ricossa Thursday that’s not enough to sustain their families. That’s why one employee who’s been with Deere for 11 years said he’s been saving up for two years because he knows how the strike pay will affect his paycheck.

Another John Deere employee who wanted to speak off-camera said she knows several coworkers who have their spouse pick up extra shifts months ago because they figured a situation like this would happen.

As cars drove by, several honked in support of those on the picket line. Union members said, “The support feels great.”

While strike pay isn’t what many wanted, a union member said it’s a part of it, and they’re here for what’s right. They’re ready to stand outside for however long is needed- to get what they want out of the contract.

One woman in her 60′s demonstrating outside the Harvester Works said she’s worked at John Deere for almost 20 years and wants to retire soon. But she can’t at this point because she just got diagnosed with breast cancer and said she can’t get what she needs with their current health insurance.

That same employee said they’re the ones making the products and the impact, so employees should see that in their paycheck, not the CEO.

That was a big point of conversation at the picket line - what some say the contract presented wasn’t a livable wage taking into consideration inflation and how well John Deere has been doing. Another employee said he hopes a deal comes before the holidays, partly because of the weather and because of the reduced pay. So far, union members say they don’t know when that may happen.

Union workers will man the picket lines 24/7 until a deal is negotiated.

The UAW website shows a bonus check will be paid the week before Thanksgiving and Christmas. The UAW Strike and Defense Fund covers some benefits including medical and prescription drugs. Members on active pay roll and in good standing are eligible for strike pay and benefits.

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