A major employer in Waterloo is offshoring some of its operations to Mexico to make room for new products, though the company was tight-lipped about potential layoffs.
John Deere announced Wednesday to its Tractor and Cab Assembly Operations workers in Waterloo it would move those operations to its John Deere Components plant in Ramos Arizpe in Coahuila, Mexico, within the next two years.
United Auto Workers Local 838 president Tim Frickson confirmed it to KWWL. A Deere spokesperson confirmed the news to Starting Line:
“John Deere’s plan to bring new product programs to our operations in Waterloo, Iowa, makes it necessary to consolidate the manufacturing of cabs from the Tractor and Cab Assembly Operations (TCAO) to Ramos Component Works in Mexico. The decision to move cab production ensures the company can balance workforce needs within the tight labor market, while also ensuring Waterloo can open up floor space to manufacture new products.
“The move is expected to be completed during the 2024 fiscal year. The number of employees affected will depend on where the business is with respect to production volumes, employee attrition over the next two years, and new product program needs.”
The spokesperson noted 1,100 people work in production at Tractor, Cab and Assembly Operations, or TCAO, while another 450 are salaried positions. That represents roughly 45% of Deere’s total workforce in Waterloo.
Deere announced in February that its newest autonomous tractor line, part of the 8R series, would be made in Waterloo starting in late 2022.
But the Deere spokesperson said the autonomous tractor line was not part of the new products that are pushing out Tractor, Cab and Assembly.
“The announcement yesterday reflects product programs that have yet to be announced,” the company told Starting Line.
Deere has been in Waterloo for a century, employing 3,429 people across several plants, including the Foundry, Drive Train, Service Parts Operations, Power Systems and Engine Works.
All unionized workers won a 10% pay raise and other concessions after a monthlong strike of Deere’s more than 10,000 UAW workers this past fall.
By Amie Rivers