John Deere employees back to work after settling strike


DES MOINES, IOWA — For the first time in more than a month, UAW Local 450 employees at John Deere’s Ankeny plant returned to work.

United Auto Workers employees affiliated with John Deere voted to end their strike Wednesday, which resulted in a six-year contract with an immediate 10 percent pay increase. By noon on Thursday, all the tents, heaters and picket signs had been retrieved from the gates of the Ankeny plant.

“We had no concessions on this contract,” said Bob Tisl, who is on the UAW 450 Board of Directors. “It was a good gain contract. We gained a lot, not as much as some people wanted, but we were able to get a lot of gains there.”

Local 450 members were being contacted throughout the day about what time to report to work. A few even came in on third shift hours after the end of the strike Wednesday night.

“The mood has been generally been pretty good,” said Tisl. “I worked with the election committee yesterday; some people thought we could get more, but we’re glad to be back to work.”  

UAW last held a strike against John Deere in 1986. While many predicted a short strike this time around, it lasted for more than a month.

“It was kind of surreal because the first time I’ve ever been on strike,” said Tisl. “I worked in the finance field for years before I went to Deere, so we never had an organized labor movement.”

Tisl said the strike was hard to handle for some of the plant’s more recent hires.

“We had some people that only started three weeks before the strike happened,” said Tisl. “They really didn’t have a chance to put aside money and they were struggling.” 

Even through the lean times, Tisl said there were people looking out for union members throughout the duration of the strike.

“The community support was just awesome,” Tisl said. “We had a lot of people stop by with a couple bags of groceries, and we had some organizations that dropped off carloads of groceries. I was down at the Hall minimum 40 hours a week either helping out working in the kitchen or doing a strike check.”

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