This week, as people from all walks of life take a moment to reflect on all they have to be grateful for, many in our community will give thanks that the Deere & Co. strike has ended.
In addition to the Deere employees — union and nonunion — who felt the direct impact, the broader community, too, had a stake in these negotiations. Many people recall the 1980s and the impact of Deere strikes on the community. They know the critical role that Dubuque County’s largest employer plays in the local economy, along with a network of other businesses connected to Deere. The community heaved a collective sigh of relief on Wednesday when a new contract was ratified.
The approval of the contract ended a five-week work stoppage that represented the first major strike by Deere workers in 35 years. And just like that, hours later, workers returned to factories for the third shift. Officials said Thursday that workers across the country were in the process of getting production back to full speed.
Nearly every family in the area has been touched in some way by the presence of the global manufacturer in our midst for nearly 85 years. The Dubuque community can appreciate just what this employer has meant to the livelihood of so many local people.
It’s not just because John Deere Dubuque Works is the largest employer in the area, boasting more than 2,800 employees. It’s not just because 40 years ago, the plant employed as many as 8,000 people. The impact of supplying good jobs for so many years has a ripple effect in the community.
In the Dubuque area, landing a job at John Deere has long been a coveted goal. Working at “Deere,” as the locals say, meant a good paycheck and great benefits from a company of gold-standard quality. Hundreds, if not thousands, of others have derived a living from Deere through indirect contact as suppliers and providers of other services. The community at large has benefited from the thousands of volunteer hours that the company and its employees invest every year.
Deere has reiterated its commitment to the area by time and again reinvesting in the community. One example came during the pandemic when John Deere Foundation donated $1.7 million to River Bend Food Bank, which includes St. Stephen’s Food Bank in Dubuque and supports more than 300 partner agencies in 23 counties in eastern Iowa and western Illinois, including Dubuque, Jackson and Jo Daviess counties. That gift allowed River Bend to expand its capacity when it needed it most.
This Thanksgiving, we offer a green-and-gold salute to Deere for its vital presence in our community through the years. Among the blessings we count this week will be a robust and productive John Deere Dubuque Works. That’s something for which our whole community should be thankful.
— Dubuque Telegraph Herald