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Striking Deere Workers to Vote on New Agreement

Nov. 2, 2021
The new agreement includes a 10% raise for the first year and two 5% raises in the third and fifth years.

Update: The UAW said November 2 that voting members  have rejected the second tentative agreement by 55% of voters to 45% and said the strike would continue.

United Auto Worker members at Deere & Co. factories will vote Tuesday on a second tentative agreement with the tractor company, affecting more than 10,000 workers at factories in five states. Negotiations yielded the new agreement on October 30, and employees will vote to approve or reject it November 2.

More than 90% of local employees voted down the first agreement between Deere management and UAW negotiators on October 10 and began striking October 14. Chief complaints from striking workers are that wage increases between 5-6% fail to reflect record company profits and that a proposal to eliminate a pathway to a pension for new employees threatens a younger generation of workers.

Although details of the tentative agreement have not yet been released by UAW leadership or Deere, UAW Local 383 posted highlights from the contract on its Facebook page October 31 (KWWL of Waterloo, Iowa, reported the local's posting). The posted contract excerpts show a ratification bonus of $8,500, a 10% wage increase in the first year followed by two 5% wage increases in years three and five, and 3% lump-sum payments in the remaining three years.

Under the new contract, all employees hired after 1997— who are not immediately entitled to a pension per Deere’s 2015 contract—will have the option to choose a 401(k)-contribution retirement plan that matches contributions of up to 6% for 2022, then a $0.70-$1 match for 2023 on, dependent on company profits.

The new proposal will cover employees’ healthcare after 30 days of employment and include two weeks of fully paid parental leave, annual eye exams, and autism care coverage.

UAW executive leadership said the new deal achieves strong gains for workers and took feedback from the first rejected deal into account.

“Our UAW John Deere national bargaining team went back to our local members after the previous tentative agreement and canvassed the concerns and priorities of membership,” said UAW President Ray Curry in a statement. He also thanked Deere workers for striking. Chuck Browning, UAW VP and director of the union’s Agricultural Implement Department, said the latest deal features “economic gains” and “continues to provide the highest quality healthcare benefits in the industry.”

The effected Deere & Co. employees are maintenance and production workers at sites in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Georgia and Colorado. The terms of their last contract, reached in 2015, lapsed October 1.

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