John Deere striker killed in the US

Submitted by AWL on 2 November, 2021 - 10:51 Author: Angela Paton
John Deere

On 27 October at 6am, a striking John Deere agricultural equipment worker, Richard Rich, 56, employed at the company for 15 years, was hit by a vehicle at a poorly lit intersection at the main parts distribution centre in Milan, Illinois, and died of traumatic chest injuries.

Workers have raised the safety issue for some time, but management would not improve lighting. The strike by 10,000 workers is part of the stream of US private sector strikes dubbed "Striketober". The apparent accident happened near the car park which strikers at the distribution centre use when picketing.

One striker said that John Deere “have blood on their hands". However, a statement released by the United Auto Workers union (UAW) didn’t denounce John Deere or place any responsibility for the striker’s death on the company. This is typical behaviour from the UAW, which has been pushed into the first strike action against the company in 30 years by pressure from workers.

As socialists and trade unionists we must hold the bosses and our own unions to account. Workers should not be dying in this tragic and needless way.

We should call on the UAW to encourage solidarity from unions internationally, including Unite in the UK, and work for vastly improved health and safety across the sector.

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