'Only reason is greed' | John Deere causes outrage as staff slashed and production to move to Mexico

John Deere causes outrage as staff slashed and production to move to Mexico

John Deere, America’s renowned agricultural equipment manufacturer, faces intense backlash as it shifts production to Mexico, resulting in significant layoffs across its U.S. plants.

The company, iconic for its green tractors and leaping deer logo, has announced several hundred job cuts over recent months, with more expected later this year.

The layoffs have ignited accusations of corporate greed, particularly given John Deere's substantial profits.

In fiscal year 2023, the company reported over $10 billion in profits, with CEO John May receiving $26.7 million in total compensation.

Additionally, John Deere spent more than $7.2 billion on stock buybacks and provided over $1.4 billion in dividends to shareholders.

“We get wind of more layoffs daily, it seems, and it’s causing uncertainty all over,” a longtime worker at the Harvester Works plant in East Moline, Illinois, who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation, told CNBC.

“The only reason for Deere to do this is greed.” The worker expressed concerns over the company's silence regarding future layoffs, suggesting that management is delaying announcements to maintain production levels until mid-August.

In October of last year, John Deere announced 250 indefinite layoffs at the Illinois plant, followed by an additional 34 workers in May.

Earlier this year, the company cut at least 650 jobs at its Iowa plants, including 500 jobs in Waterloo and 150 in Ankeny. At the Ottumwa plant, 103 workers opted for early retirement after the company revealed plans to cut more jobs and shift production to Mexico.

KWWL News 7, a local NBC affiliate in Iowa, reported that John Deere had informed workers of additional layoffs planned for the third quarter of this year, although specific numbers were not disclosed.

The company also announced plans to transfer production of skid steer loaders and compact track loaders from its Dubuque plant to Mexico by late 2026.

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In 2022, John Deere had moved cab production from Iowa to Mexico, affecting 250 employees.

Despite the layoffs, John Deere’s 2023 annual report stated that it employs 33,800 workers in the U.S. and Canada.

The recent job cuts follow a major strike in October 2021, when more than 10,000 workers, represented by the United Auto Workers, walked out at 14 John Deere plants across Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Colorado, and Georgia.

The strike, which garnered national attention during ‘Striketober,’ ended in November 2021 with the ratification of a new six-year union contract agreement.

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