John Deere announces mass layoffs in Midwest amid production shift to Mexico

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John Deere, the world’s largest seller of tractors and crop harvesters, has announced another wave of layoffs Friday, telling around 610 production staff at plants in Illinois and Iowa that they will be out of a job by the end of the summer, according to reports.  

The company is slashing around 280 workers from a plant in East Moline, Illinois, while another 230 employees are being let go at a factory in Davenport, Iowa. About 100 production employees at the company’s Dubuque, Iowa, plant will also be impacted. All layoffs are said to be effective from Aug. 30, per a press release cited by several outlets. 

According to the release, the layoffs are being made due to reduced demand for John Deere’s products from those factories.

The company says it generated $10.166 billion in profits last year.

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“We can confirm Deere leadership recently communicated that rising operational costs and declining market demand requires enterprise-wide changes in how work gets done to achieve our goals and best position the company for the future,” the statement reads.

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Workers are to be offered Supplemental Unemployment Benefit (SUB) which will cover about 95% of their weekly net pay for up to 26 weeks, depending on their years of service. They are also being given profit-sharing options and health benefits. 

Deere, known for its iconic green and yellow colors and jumping deer logo, is one of America’s oldest companies, having been established in 1837, nearly 25 years before the start of the Civil War.

Earlier this month, Deere announced it is moving the manufacturing of skid steer loaders and compact track loaders from its Dubuque facility to Mexico by the end of 2026.

The company said the decision was due to it evolving its business model and to address rising manufacturing costs and improve operational efficiencies. 

“This includes optimizing our factories for future products, making our operations more efficient and taking advantage of locations in the U.S. and globally, with a growing labor force,” a statement from the company reads. 

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In October, John Deere announced its first wave of 225 layoffs at its Harvester Works plant in East Moline. Another 34 production employees were laid off in May at its Moline Cylinder Works factory, while in March, company officials announced that they would lay off 150 more workers at a plant in Ankeny, Iowa, where sprayers and cotton pickers are made.

About 500 employees have been let go at its Waterloo plant in Iowa, per WQAD.

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One longtime John Deere worker at the Harvester Works plant in East Moline, blamed the latest announcement on greed.

“We get wind of more layoffs daily, it seems, and it’s causing uncertainty all over,” said the worker, who wished to remain anonymous. “The only reason for Deere to do this is greed.”

Deere & Co’s market capitalization stood around $102.81 billion as of Friday evening. In mid-May, the company said it had generated $27.42 billion in net sales and revenues over the first two quarters of the year. Its net income for the same timeframe was $4.121 billion.

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The company recently trimmed its annual profit forecast for the second time and projected steeper declines in sales of large agricultural equipment. 

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Lower crop prices are leaving agricultural equipment sellers with an excess of unsold tractors and combines, leading some to offer discounts and suspend new orders.

The Department of Agriculture has also forecast farm income would slide 25.5% to $116.1 billion this year from 2023.

The news of layoffs comes amid a report on Wednesday that John Deere CEO John May has put his 80-acre horse farm property up for sale. Its asking price has been set at $3.925 million, according to its listing.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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