Judge sides with John Deere strikers in case over tactics

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A judge has sided with striking John Deere employees in a case over whether their protesting tactics were permissible at a site in Des Moines.

District Court Judge Paul Scott ruled on Tuesday to deny Deer & Co.’s request for an injunction that would limit the United Auto Workers (UAW) members’ labor action against the company, The Des Moines Register reported

Scott said the company was unable to prove the protesters were engaging in unlawful activity despite the videos it presented.

“The video evidence … shows vehicles have been slowed down by picketers in crosswalks; it fails to prove illegal conduct has occurred,” Scott wrote in his opinion. “Deere presumably has accumulated hours of video evidence at picket lines, possibly for the entirety of the Union’s demonstrations at these gates, and the videos are void of illegal conduct on the part of the Union.”

The union members have been striking since Oct. 14 at the company’s Des Moines Works, walking along crosswalks with signs as cars tried to enter or leave the facility, according to the local outlet. 

“Deere & Company sought a temporary injunction to maintain a safe environment for our contractors and employees, including those exercising their right to strike. Deere will continue working to ensure safe entry and exit to our facilities,” a spokesperson for the company said in a statement to The Hill. 

The judge highlighted that the union has put leaders in charge of the strikes so picketers didn’t go past what is considered “protected activity.”

Deere argued the “secondary strikes” where contractors entered the facility were prohibited, but the judge said the company has to go to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for such matters.

“Deere has adequate remedies at law for violations or illegal conduct by the union,” Scott wrote. “First, for criminal violations, Deere can avail itself of law enforcement. Second, it can go the NLRB to seek relief. The Court disagrees that enjoining the Union against violating traffic laws or trespass laws would offer assistance to law enforcement. Further, enjoining the Union from breaking the law is unnecessary and redundant. The criminal justice system is set up for this very purpose.”

An attorney for the union celebrated the decision on Tuesday.

“The decision from the Polk County District Court reaffirms what the union has been saying all along: these are orderly picketing activities that are legally protected by the National Labor Relations Act and the First Amendment,” said Mark Hedberg, local counsel for the UAW.

“It is unfortunate that Deere has tried to use state court intervention to disrupt and control the union’s right to engage in picketing, but we are encouraged that the court saw through that effort and ultimately protected the union’s rights,” he added.

When asked for comment, UAW told The Hill they “will let the decision speak for itself.”

Updated at 7:23 p.m.

Tags John Deere labor strike labor union United Auto Workers

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