Deere Workers Approve Third Contract Offer, Agree to End Monthlong Strike

Deere and Co. workers approved a new deal Wednesday ending a monthlong strike.

The new deal was agreed to by 61 percent of the United Auto Workers Union despite its minimal changes from a previously rejected offer.

The last deal was rejected by 55 percent of workers, according to the Associated Press. This new contract keeps an immediate 10 percent raise the previous deal offered. It also makes changes to the details of Deere's internal incentive pay program for workers that the United Auto Workers union said was "modest."

Deere officials said not to expect the company to offer any more money to the union after the last vote on November 2. Deere had mostly stuck to that promise.

Along with the initial raises, the offer keeps the 5 percent raises that were in the third and fifth years of the six-year deal and 3 percent lump-sum payments in the second, fourth, and sixth years of the deal. The proposal also has an $8,500 ratification bonus, gives a pension option for new employees, makes workers eligible for health insurance faster and keeps their no-premium health insurance coverage.

The contract covers 12 plants, seven in Iowa, four in Illinois, and one in Kansas where the company's equipment is made. This is the first major strike at the company since 1986.

The company called the third contract its final offer. What it did was slightly change the formula it uses to decide which workers get bonuses depending on if their teams hit certain productivity goals. The changes allow workers to qualify for incentive pay easier. However, some Deere workers who can't qualify because of the job they do in the company's factories and warehouses.

Deere CEO John C. May said he is pleased that workers will be back on the job "building and supporting the industry-leading products which make our customers more profitable and sustainable."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

John Deere, Strike, Contract Vote
Over 10,000 Deere and Co. workers are voting on a contract offer Wednesday that has "modest" changes from the last rejected offer. Above, members of the United Auto Workers strike outside of a John Deere plant, October 20, 2021, in Ankeny, Iowa. Charlie Neibergall/AP Photo, File

The workers had been holding out for more from Deere, which has predicted it will report record annual profits between $5.7 billion and $5.9 billion when it releases its earnings report later this month. More than 90 percdent of the workers rejected Deere's initial offer, but the second vote was much closer after the company essentially doubled the raises it was offering.

Another group of UAW-represented workers went on strike earlier this year at a Volvo Trucks plant in Virginia and secured better pay and lower-cost health benefits after rejecting three tentative contract offers. Currently, about 1,400 Kellogg's workers have been on strike since early last month at the company's four U.S. cereal plants.

Update 11/17/21, 10:49 p.m. ET: This article was updated to add results of the vote.

Company officials have said they are using salaried employees and other workers to try and keep their factories operating during the strike. Other Deere plants globally are also working to pick up work.

Still, Deere workers—and other unions—have been emboldened to ask for more this year because of the ongoing worker shortages and because workers didn't always feel appreciated while working long hours during the pandemic.

Another group of UAW-represented workers went on strike earlier this year at a Volvo Trucks plant in Virginia and secured better pay and lower-cost health benefits after rejecting three tentative contract offers. Currently, about 1,400 Kellogg's workers have been on strike since early last month at the company's four U.S. cereal plants.

John Deere, Strike, Contract Vote
Over 10,000 workers are voting on a new contract offer Wednesday that has "modest" changes from the last rejected offer. Above, a truck hauls a piece of John Deere equipment from the factory past workers picketing outside of the John Deere Davenport Works facility on October 15, 2021 in Davenport, Iowa. Scott Olson/Getty Images