Workers, and area businesses they often visit, were reeling after Deere & Company announced plans for more than 600 layoffs at four locations.
Two-thirds of the layoffs, 425, will come from Harvester Works in East Moline.
The ag giant blamed slower sales for its big-ticket items.
A shiny green combine symbolizes Deere’s success in East Moline, but with grain prices tumbling and a bumper crop on the way, sales are sluggish.
At Harvester Works, 425 employees will go on indefinite layoff on October 20, 2014.
“Oh, it hurt real bad,” said Percy Atwater after he learned the news.
Atwater should know. He spent 35 years at Harvester Works, and now operates his rib joint just across the street.
“It ain’t a paycheck every week like it used to be,” Atwater said.
Workers attended meetings to learn more about the layoffs, including plans to reduce agricultural equipment production for the rest of the year.
“Well, you know the old saying,” said East Moline Mayor John Thodos. “When John Deere sneezes, the Quad Cities gets a cold. That’s still, to some extent, true.”
Layoffs also affect some jobs at John Deere Seeding and Cylinder in Moline. Other jobs in Ankeny, Iowa, and Coffeyville, Kansas, will also be put on hold.
As word reached along the restaurant corridor on 5th Avenue in Moline, there was concern about losing a piece of the pie.
“It will definitely hurt our business,” said Auldon Casanova of The Slice. “A lot of these folks come down here and have lunch. They spend a lot of money with us.”
Harvester Works will also extend its seasonal shutdown from September 29 until November 3. It’s a global sign of the times.
“It’s a bad situation,” Atwater concluded.
A situation now facing hundreds of local employees in coming months.