Deere & Co. workers came out in full force, with more than 10,000 marching on strike Thursday, in the first significant walkout at the agricultural machinery company in more than 30 years.
The strike centered around small wage increases. Deere CEO John May, earned nearly $16 million in his first year in the role last year, and according to Daily Mail, "makes 220 times more than the median company salary of $70,743."
The company will report full-year financial results in November and has forecast a record net income of $5.7 billion to $5.9 billion. Workers believe they are due a company share of the wealth.
United Auto Workers, the union representing Deere workers, said its members would walk off the job if no deal is reached on Wednesday. The strike is taking place during U.S. corn and soybean harvest season, and farmers are struggling to find parts for tractors and combines.
"Our members at John Deere strike for the ability to earn a decent living, retire with dignity and establish fair work rules,' said Chuck Browning, vice president and director of the UAW´s Agricultural Implement Department. 'We stay committed to bargaining until our members' goals are achieved."
Iowa State University economist Dave Swenson said, "those profits give Deere the means to come to terms with workers. They can afford to settle this thing on much more agreeable terms to the union and still maintain really strong profitability,"
The last strike against Deere by the UAW was in 1986, when workers sat out for 163 days.