Deere, UAW continue to negotiating to end strike

John Deere and the United Auto Workers are still searching for a solution to a strike that started this fall.

Despite having reached second tentative agreements with the UAW, employees at 12 facilities in Illinois, Iowa, and Kansas voted in early November to reject them. Deere and UAW have been negotiating new collective bargaining agreements since Aug. 17. Employees at Deere parts facilities in Denver and Atlanta voted in support of a separate agreement with identical economic terms.

According to the Nov. 3 John Deere release, the best-in-industry agreements reached with the UAW would have provided an immediate 10% wage increase and 30% wage increases over the term of contract; healthcare with $0 premiums, $0 deductibles, $0 coinsurance; new paid parental leave, autism care, and other benefits; groundbreaking retirement benefits; and a ratification bonus of $8,500.

"Through the agreements reached with the UAW, John Deere would have invested an additional $3.5 billion in our employees, and by extension, our communities, to significantly enhance wages and benefits that were already the best and most comprehensive in our industries," said Marc A. Howze, group president, lifecycle solutions and chief administrative officer for Deere. "This investment was the right one for Deere, our employees, and everyone we serve together.”

Howze said the agreement would have created greater competitive challenges within the industry. He had faith in the employees’ ability to sharpen the competitive edge. With the rejection of the agreement covering the Midwest facilities, the execution of the next phase of the Customer Service Continuation Plan will begin.

Wallas Wiggins, vice president, Global Supply management and logistics, said in a news release, that many of the production and maintenance employees will remain on strike.

“Our immediate concern is meeting the needs of our customers, who work in time-sensitive and critical industries such as agriculture and construction,” Wiggins said. “By supporting our customers, the CSC Plan also protects the livelihoods of all those who rely upon us, including our suppliers, their employees, and all those who rely upon them.”

He asked that vendors continue shipping all scheduled lines in their full quantities per EDI requirements and monitoring EDI for potential changes. Service parts shipments with deliveries destined for XPAC 525 and NA-PDC should expect delays in scheduled material pick up. They need to work with the appropriate supply management contact to prioritize alternate shipping and manufacturing plans, Wiggins said.

UAW reported the vote as 45% yes to 55% no by UAW John Deere members. The group expects the strike against John Deere & Company to continue as members discuss next steps with the company. Pickets will continue and any updates will be provided through the local union.

In an Oct. 30 release, UAW President Ray Curry and UAW Vice President Chuck Browning announced the elected national bargaining team at John Deere has reached a tentative agreement and will remain on strike throughout the ratification process.

“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 Curry. “We want to thank the UAW bargaining team and striking UAW members and their families for the sacrifices they have made to achieve these gains. Our members have enjoyed the support of our communities and the entire labor movement nationwide as they have stood together in support and solidarity these past few weeks.”

Chuck Browning, UAW vice president and director of the agricultural implement department, said the agreement contains enhanced economic gains and continues to provide the highest quality healthcare benefits in the industry. “The negotiators focused on improving the areas of concern identified by our members during our last ratification process.”

The UAW will not release details of the tentative agreement until members at all John Deere locations have an opportunity to meet and review the terms of their proposed contract.

Members should reach out to their local unions for more information about the time and location of meeting and subsequent ratification votes.

The John Deere facilities affected by the ongoing strike include: (in Iowa) Davenport Works; Des Moines Works; Dubuque Works; Ottumwa Works; Waterloo Works; Tractor and Cab Assembly; Engine Works; and the Foundry; (in Illinois) Harvester Works, North American Parts Distribution Center; the Seeding Group and Cylinder Division; and (in Kansas) Coffeyville Works.

Kylene Scott can be reached at 620-227-1804 or [email protected].