TV6 Investigates looks at safety protocols at the John Deere Milan strike

Published: Oct. 28, 2021 at 6:16 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MILAN, Illinois (KWQC) - Workers stationed outside of the John Deere-Milan Works were told to put their picket signs down temporarily Wednesday following the death of a union member who was struck by a passing car.

56-year-old Richard Rich died on Wednesday morning after the car hit him. At the time he was crossing the Rock Island-Milan Parkway around 6 a.m. on his way to a shift at the picket line.

Concerns from the community have followed since then about the safety procedures that were taken at the strike site and if Rich’s passing could have been prevented.

TV6 Investigates’ Darby Sparks went out and had a look at the area where Rick and other strikers have been using and evaluated the scene. It is a four-lane busy highway that workers have to cross in order to get to the picket line, and there are no crosswalks in sight.

It complicates matters for union members who must park in a cul-de-sac on one side of the highway, walking to the other side to get to John Deere’s property where they are picketing.

TV6 Investigates sent the United Auto Worker’s representative an email asking about what safety guidelines--if any--members at the site have been given, as well as who chose the location and parking spots.

The UAW representative responded that they are unwilling to comment at this time.

A new development as of Thursday is that union members started to wear light-reflective vests when they came back to the picket line. They had not been wearing them before, which potentially made them hard to spot.

One of the street lamps at the location was not working properly at the time that Rich was struck by a passing vehicle, making it potentially difficult to spot pedestrians when the sun goes down.

TV6 Investigates emailed the Village of Milan, asking who is responsible for fixing the light and if they have received any complaints. The Village issued a lengthy response, which in sum stated that they were aware and forwarded complaints to MidAmerican Energy. However, they said that the street lamp is Rock Island County’s responsibility.

The state of Illinois’ Transportation Department also confirmed that the street lamp’s maintenance is the responsibility of the county.

TV6 Investigates sent the county an email and has yet to receive a response.

As of the time this article was written, workers are back out at the Milan location on strike and wearing safety gear. One member passing through stated that they are no longer crossing the street on foot.

Copyright 2021 KWQC. All rights reserved.