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MILAN, Ill. — A 56-year-old man was struck and killed by a vehicle Wednesday morning while joining strikers on a picket line outside the John Deere Parts Distribution Center in Milan.
The man was identified as Richard Rich, a member of United Auto Workers Local 79.
Milan police said Rich was crossing the Rock Island-Milan Parkway at Deere Drive about 6 a.m. when he was struck by a vehicle. He died at the scene.
According to the UAW leadership, Rich was a 15-year employee at the Deere distribution center.
Picketing was halted for the day at the Milan site, a union member said.
John Deere officials said in a statement they were “saddened by the tragic accident and death of one of our employees who was struck by a vehicle before daw. … All of us at John Deere express our deepest condolences to their family and friends.”
UAW leaders also released statements.
“On behalf of the UAW and all working families, we mourn the passing of our UAW brother,” said UAW President Ray Curry. “It is a somber time to lose a member who made the ultimate sacrifice in reporting to picket for a better life for his family and co-workers.”
Ron McInroy, director of UAW Region 4, said, “Our brother was fighting for what is right, and we all mourn for his family and co-workers. Through our tears, we continue to picket and honor the solidarity of our fallen brother.”
Curry said the UAW flag will fly at half-staff in honor of the man who died.
More than 10,000 Deere & Co. workers went on strike this month at 14 Deere factories in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Colorado and Georgia after the UAW members rejected a contract offer. It is the first major walkout at the agricultural machinery giant in more than three decades.
Also on Wednesday, In the legal back-and-forth over a temporary injunction against picketing UAW members, an attorney for Deere & Co. is asking the judge who issued the order to keep it in place.
The union challenged the injunction in Scott County District Court, arguing Deere had failed to supply the court with evidence of the disruptions they claim striking workers were causing outside the Davenport plant.
It asked District Judge Marlita Greve to vacate her order.
In response, an attorney for Deere filed a resistance motion, urging Greve to keep the injunction in place, saying the company had provided statements about disruptions from four Deere employees and five truck drivers.
Greve is expected to respond to the motions by the end of next week. The union asked that she be removed from the case, saying she could apply prejudice in a review of her own order.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.