John Deere Workers Call Out Company for “Greed” Over Production Shift to Mexico

Last Updated: April 26, 2024By

John Deere Workers Call Out Company for “Greed” Over Production Shift to Mexico

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Big Changes at John Deere

So, there’s a lot of talk about John Deere lately. You know, the iconic company with those green tractors and the deer logo? They’re planning to move more production to Mexico, and workers are not happy. They’re saying the company is being super greedy.

Layoffs and Uncertainty

In the past few months, John Deere has laid off hundreds of workers, and more layoffs are on the way. A worker from the Harvester Works plant in East Moline, Illinois, shared their worries but wanted to stay anonymous because they fear getting in trouble. They said, “We hear about more layoffs almost every day. It’s making everyone uneasy. The only reason for Deere to do this is greed.”

Big Profits, Big Cuts

John Deere is doing really well financially. In 2023, they made over $10 billion in profit. Their CEO, John May, got paid a whopping $26.7 million. They also spent $7.2 billion buying back their own stock and gave $1.4 billion in dividends to shareholders. Meanwhile, the workers are left in the dark about their future.

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The Quiet Before the Storm

That same worker mentioned, “Our plant is still running, but management is being unusually quiet. They’re not having the usual meetings where they tell us what’s going on. I think they don’t want us to know we’re losing our jobs until they’ve built everything they need for the year. We know layoffs are coming, but we don’t know when or how many. We’re expecting a big layoff around mid-August.”

More Layoffs Across the Country

Last October, John Deere announced 250 indefinite layoffs at the Illinois plant. Then in May, another 34 workers were let go. Earlier this year, at least 650 jobs were cut in Iowa, with 500 in Waterloo and 150 in Ankeny. Another 103 workers took early retirement in Ottumwa after hearing about more job cuts coming and production shifting to Mexico.

Personal Stories

Chris Laursen, a 53-year-old from the Ottumwa plant, decided to take early retirement. He was worried about getting laid off again since he had already been terminated last year but got his job back through the union. He had been with John Deere for 22 years. Chris said, “For towns like Ottumwa, losing John Deere would be a huge loss. It’s a town of 28,000, and the only other major employer is a pork processing plant. There aren’t many job options.”

The Bigger Picture

Chris also pointed out that big companies like John Deere find Mexico attractive because of cheap labor and cheaper steel. They can make stuff cheaper there and then sell it back in the US. This shift is part of a larger trend of manufacturing jobs leaving the US, which hits union jobs and other good-paying positions hard.

What’s Next?

Local news in Iowa reported that John Deere plans more layoffs in the third quarter of this year, but they didn’t say how many. They also plan to move the production of some loaders from Dubuque to Mexico by late 2026. Back in 2022, they announced moving cab production from Iowa to Mexico, affecting 250 employees.

Union Strikes and Worker Frustrations

These layoffs follow a major strike in October 2021 by over 10,000 John Deere workers across 14 plants in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Colorado, and Georgia. The strike, part of a wave of industrial actions known as ‘Striketober,’ ended in November 2021 when workers agreed to a new six-year union contract.

John Deere has not responded to multiple requests for comments on these issues.

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