New York CNN Business  — 

A John Deere worker who was walking to the picket line Wednesday in Milan, Illinois, was struck and killed by a car, according to the United Autoworkers Union.

“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 coworkers,” said Ray Curry, UAW President.

The 56 year-old union member, whose name has not been released, was a 15-year employee at the Milan John Deere Parts Distribution Plant in Moline, Illinois.

“We are saddened by the tragic accident and death of one of our employees who was struck by a vehicle before dawn this morning while crossing the Rock Island Milan Beltway in Milan, Illinois. All of us at John Deere (DE) express our deepest condolences to their family and friends. We have no further details as we await reports from law enforcement,” said Jennifer Hartmann, Director of Public Relations at John Deere (DE).

John Deere workers will continue to strike as the UAW flag is flown at half-staff in honor of the victim.

“Through our tears, we continue to picket and honor the solidarity of our fallen brother. But we do this with heavy hearts today,” said Ron McInroy, director of UAW Region 4.

10,000 John Deere workers have been on strike throughout the country since October 14 – as their union leadership negotiates a new contract. Two years ago, Roy A. McCombs was struck and killed by a car while on strike with the United Auto Workers outside General Motors’ Spring Hill Manufacturing plant.