National Republican group takes aim at Deere strike supporters

By: - November 10, 2021 5:31 pm

John Deere manufactures a variety of farm equipment. (Photo via Deere & Co.)

As the John Deere strike enters its fifth week, a national Republican organization took aim at Iowa Democrats for supporting union workers.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee, an organization devoted to winning back a GOP Senate majority, issued a news release Wednesday, criticizing Senate candidate Abby Finkenauer for supporting striking workers. 

“Far from actually representing the voices of hardworking Iowa farmers, Finkenauer is instead siding with union strikers whose actions are jeopardizing entire crops and the livelihood of farmers all across Iowa,” the news release said.

The NRSC then cited entire paragraphs from an Iowa Field Report article alleging that the strike had gone on too long and that it was “inflicting trauma on one of America’s most important demographics, the family farmer.”

Finkenauer responded with a statement Wednesday, condemning the NRSC statement and criticizing Sen. Chuck Grassley’s record on unions.

“Let me be clear: If they want to attack me for standing with hardworking Iowans who give their all for their families like the very one I grew up in, all I can say is, more please,” Finkenauer wrote.

Iowa Democrats also voiced their support for the striking workers and for Finkenauer in a Wednesday call with reporters. 

“The people jeopardizing the crops and the future of farming in Iowa are the John Deere management people who are not coming up with a contract that’s fair for the workers who are striking,” said Iowa House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst. 

She added that the NRSC “isn’t on the ground here,” whereas Finkenauer is speaking to Iowans. 

“We’d rather hear from her than some folks in Washington,” Konfrst said.

Despite the NRSC news release, Iowa’s Republican leaders have mostly remained quiet on the union’s efforts. 

Gov. Kim Reynolds told reporters Wednesday she does not intend to intervene in the strike.

“We’re letting the process work out and it is working out,” Reynolds said, according to Radio Iowa. “They’ll continue to come to the table, they’ll continue to work on the negotiations and, hopefully, they’ll reach that settlement sooner rather than later.”

In the early days of the strike, Finkenauer’s opponent Grassley recognized the right of workers to strike.

“And that’s a decision those workers made, and, under the laws, we have to respect it,” Grassley said in mid-October.

The following day, Grassley tweeted that he went on strike while working in a factory and he hoped for a “swift conclusion” to the Deere conflict.

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Katie Akin
Katie Akin

Reporter Katie Akin began her career as an intern at PolitiFact, debunking viral fake news and fact-checking state and national politicians. She moved to Iowa in 2019 for a politics internship at the Des Moines Register, where she assisted with Iowa Caucus coverage, multimedia projects and the Register’s Iowa Poll. She became the Register’s retail reporter in early 2020, chronicling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Central Iowa’s restaurants and retailers.