Around 10,000 workers at Deere & Co., the company that owns the John Deere tractor brand, are currently on strike, and they’ve found solidarity in some unlikely candidates: semi truck drivers making deliveries.
Deere workers, part of the United Auto Workers union, have successfully convinced at least one semi driver not to cross a picket line in Ottumwa, Iowa, which essentially means that trucker won’t be making his daily delivery. You can watch it unfold in the video below, courtesy of Jonah Furman, who has been covering this strike in depth:
The semi driver honks his horn and makes a hand motion that appears to signal he’ll be turning around. Furman noted that there were similar stories from Davenport Local 281 and Dubuque Local 94, though he didn’t have videos to share at the moment.
If you’re not familiar with the labor movement, crossing a picket line is generally considered in poor taste. Unions rely on collective power to bargain for things like raises or better working conditions, so the more people that show solidarity by not patronizing the business in question, the more pressure is put on that business to negotiate to meet the worker’s demands. Anyone can choose not to cross a picket line — other employees of the company, business partners, consumers, or delivery drivers, like the fellow in question in this video.
This year has seen a lot of wild claims about a trucker strike, in large part because many semi drivers retired or quit their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, so as the economy has picked back up, truckers have been asked to work longer hours and are pressured to pick up the slack that exists because many people are avoiding trucker jobs. It’s pretty easy to imagine the man behind the wheel of the semi in Ottumwa is familiar with his own concerns.
If you’re wondering why Deere employees are striking, it’s pretty simple. They want better pay that’s more commensurate to the billions in profit that the company makes, and a tentative contract deal between the union and Deere fell through after employees failed to ratify the contract. Basically, management had pitched a five or six percent raise for most employees, which is fairly insignificant in the grand scheme of things.