Deere & Co. is making one more effort to reach a deal with striking UAW workers. Despite previously calling its second tentative agreement its “final and best” offer, Deere & Co. management have sent a new version to union negotiators with what the United Auto Workers called “modest modifications,” enough that it would send the contract to members for a vote.
The strike, which started October 4, has now lasted for five weeks. It effects more than 10,000 Deere & Co. employees at 12 plants spread across Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Colorado and Georgia.
A slight majority—55% of union members—voted to reject the second tentative agreement November 2, a substantial improvement over the 99% rejection of the first tentative agreement at the start of the strike in October. Deere & Co. and the Des Moines Register reported that the agreement received majority votes at some local unions, but they were outvoted by larger margins for rejection in bigger locals in Waterloo, Iowa, and Dubuque, Iowa.
According to the Des Moines Register, local unions will vote on the contract Wednesday, November 17. Details of the modifications to the second agreement have not yet been made available to workers or the public yet, but the rejected second agreement included a ratification bonus of $8,500, an immediate 10% raise, two 5% raises and three 3% annual lump-sum totals across the six-year life of the contract, and an improved retirement plan for post-1997 hires that included a cost-of-living adjustment to account for inflation.
The first contract, rejected by UAW-represented workers in October, would have included raises between 5-6% and eliminated the pathway for post-1997 hires to receive a pension instead of a 401(k) retirement plan. Union representatives said the pay increases were too small for a company currently expected to make a record profit between $5.6 and $5.9 billion in 2021 thanks to increased demand and high corn and soybean prices.