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  • John Deere accused of corporate greed amid plans to rolls out hundreds of US layoffs and sends work to Mexico

    John Deere

    Source: The Guardian

    Agricultural equipment company plans to move production out of the country in move condemned by workers. US workers at John Deere plants have accused the company of acting on “greed” as America’s most famous agricultural equipment company plans to shift more production to Mexico.

    The company – famous for its green tractors and leaping deer logo – has announced layoffs of several hundred workers over the last several months with more layoffs planned for later this year.

    “We get wind of more layoffs daily, it seems, and it’s causing uncertainty all over,” said a longtime John Deere worker at the Harvester Works plant in East Moline, Illinois, who requested to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation. “The only reason for Deere to do this is greed.”

    They cited the company’s recent profits. John Deere reported a profit of over $10bn in fiscal year 2023 and its CEO John May received $26.7m in total compensation. John Deere spent over $7.2bn on stock buybacks in 2023 and provided shareholders with more than $1.4bn in dividends.

    The worker said: “Our harvester plant is still in production and management has been quiet. They’re not doing the normal ‘time to talk’ meetings as they have in recent past. My belief is that they don’t want people to know they are losing their jobs until they get everything built for the year.

    “We know a layoff is coming, we don’t know if, how many or when it will happen. We’re expecting to finish production in mid-August and believe we will see a large layoff then.”

    In October last year, John Deere announced 250 indefinite layoffs at the Illinois plant. Another 34 workers were laid off in May.

    Earlier this year, at least 650 jobs were cut at John Deere’s plants in Iowa, with 500 jobs cut in Waterloo and 150 jobs cut at the Ankeny plant. Another 103 workers took an early retirement offer at the Ottumwa plant after the company announced plans to cut more jobs at the plant later this year and shift that production to Mexico.

    Chris Laursen, 53, is one of the employees at the Ottumwa plant who took the early retirement, citing concerns about being laid off given he was terminated last year but through his union won his job back. He had worked there for 22 years.

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    Laursen said: “[For] a lot of these communities, like mine in Ottumwa, losing John Deere would be an extremely big loss. It’s a town of 28,000, and the only other manufacturing is a pork processing facility, so it doesn’t leave a lot of options for jobs.

    “A multinational corporation like Deere sees Mexico as pretty attractive for a cheap labor source: they can import steel cheaper there and bring it across the border and sell it to the majority of their market in the US. It’s a sign of the times, perpetuating what’s been going on with the loss of manufacturing here in America, good union jobs and otherwise.”

    KWWL News 7, a local NBC News affiliate in Iowa, reported that John Deere sent out an email to workers stating plans of further layoffs in the third quarter of this year, but the number of layoffs were not provided.

    Deere announced plans to move production of skid steer loaders and compact track loaders from a Dubuque plant to Mexico by late 2026.

    In 2022, the company had announced plans to move cab production from Iowa to Mexico, impacting 250 employees.

    John Deere stated its 2023 annual report that it employs 33,800 workers in the US and Canada.

    The layoffs come in the wake of a strike of more than 10,000 workers represented by the United Auto Workers at 14 John Deere plants in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Colorado and Georgia in October 2021. The strike led headlines during ‘Striketober’ – a month of large scale industrial actions around the US. The John Deere strike ended in November that year when workers ratified a new six-year union contract agreement.

    John Deere did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

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