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UAW Deere Workers Ratify New 6-Year Contract, Return to Work

Nov. 18, 2021
Employees voted to approve the contract late November 17, signaling an end to their five-week strike.

This piece has been updated.

The United Auto Workers announced late Wednesday evening that striking members at 14 John Deere plants in Iowa and four other states voted to approve the tractor company’s latest contract offer. According to a union statement, 61% of about 10,100 workers voted to approve the contract while 39% voted against. Employees returned to work for the third shift November 17.

The latest contract, per an earlier UAW statement, is a modified version of the one Deere workers rejected by 55% earlier this month. According to the union, it includes an immediate $8,500 signing bonus and 10% raise, three 5% raises and three 3% lump sum payments over the six-year life of the contract, cost-of-living adjustments and improved retirement benefits.

UAW President Ray Curry, in a statement, said his union “could not be more proud of these UAW members and their families,” and the Director of the UAW’s agricultural equipment department, Chuck Browning, said striking workers “started a movement for workers in this country.”

“The sacrifice and solidarity displayed by our John Deere members combined with the determination of their negotiators made this achievement possible,” said Browning.

Deere CEO John May, in a statement, said he was “very glad” to have workers back on the line and said the approved contract provides “industry-leading” terms.

“Through our new collective bargaining agreements, we’re giving employees the opportunity to earn wages and benefits that are the best in our industries and are groundbreaking in many ways. We have faith that, in return, our employees will find new and better ways to improve our competitiveness and transform the way our customers do their work,” he said.

The original Deere & Co. offer, rejected by 90% of workers October 4, would have increased wages between 5-6% over the life of the contract. Strikers criticized the original proposal as insufficient for a company on track to make record profits this year. Deere shattered its previous full-year profit record of $3.5 billion in August when it reported it had earned almost $4.7 billion in the first nine months of the financial year. At the time, the company predicted full-year profits of between $5.6 and $5.9 billion. 

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