Deere employees ratify agreements, end strike

A strike at the largest farm equipment manufacturer in the world has ended and workers will return to their jobs.

The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America has informed Deere & Company, Moline, Illinois, that its production and maintenance employees have voted to ratify new six-year collective bargaining agreements that cover more than 10,000 workers at 14 facilities across the United States, in an announcement made Nov. 17 by the UAW and Deere. The strike began in Oct. 14.

"I’m pleased our highly skilled employees are back to work building and supporting the industry-leading products which make our customers more profitable and sustainable," said John C. May, chairman and CEO for Deere in a news release. "John Deere’s success depends on the success of our people. 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. Together, our future is bright."

By a vote of 61% to 39%, UAW John Deere members ratified the agreement, which includes an $8,500 signing bonus; 20% increase in wages over the lifetime of the contract with 10% this year; return of Cost of Living adjustments; three 3% lump sum payments; enhanced options for retirement and enhanced CIPP performance benefits. Health care remains the same for the life of the agreement.

UAW President Ray Curry, on behalf of the International Executive Board, thanked the members and families of UAW John Deere for their willingness to sacrifice.

“UAW John Deere members did not just unite themselves, they seemed to unite the nation in a struggle for fairness in the workplace. We could not be more proud of these UAW members and their families.”

“Our members’ courageous willingness to strike in order to attain a better standard of living and a more secure retirement resulted in a groundbreaking contract and sets a new standard for workers not only within the UAW but throughout the country,” said Chuck Browning, vice president of the UAW and director of the UAW Agricultural Implement department. “The sacrifice and solidarity displayed by our John Deere members combined with the determination of their negotiators made this accomplishment possible. They have started a movement for workers in this country by what was achieved here today and they have earned the admiration and respect of all that strive for what is just and equitable in the workplace.”

Locally UAW Region 4 Director Ron McInroy thanked the communities and families of John Deere UAW members for their support and thanked the members for their solidarity. “Our members stood together and did not waiver,” said McInroy. “Members and their families put a lot on the line for these gains and the community support was overwhelming. I’d like to thank the John Deere members, their families, their leaders and our bargaining team for standing firm and achieving these important gains.”

According to the company’s website, the average employee will receive $82,000 in new money with a $6 to $10 hourly wage increase over the contract depending on the job classification.

The agreement calls for 10% general wage increases in 2021, 5% increases in 2023 and 2025 and a 3% increase in lump sum payments in 2022, 2024 and 2026. A provision for cost of living adjustments will be used to protect against inflation and can be adjusted every three months.

Employees will have paid parental leave, vision care transitioned to 12 months from 24 months and autism care coverage. The company will add additional monies for retirement planning with its Traditional PLUS and added monies for employees. Deere offers employees two retirement plans—a defined benefit plan with a pension, cash balance savings and retirement bonus and a 401k that matches $0.60 on the dollar up to 6% of their earnings.

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or [email protected].