John Deere Workers Each Given $8,500 Bonus as Company Buckles to Strike Demands

More than 10,000 workers at John Deere are to receive an $8,500 bonus in what appears to be a major victory for staff in their strike against the well-known agricultural machinery company.

The John Deere employees, who are members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union, voted overwhelmingly to agree on a deal with the firm on Wednesday that will see them receive an immediate 10 percent pay rise.

The strike lasted for five weeks and was putting the firm's operations in serious difficulty, with software engineers and computer programmers reassigned to manufacturing plants.

John Deere is the brand name of Deere & Company, which most famously manufactures agricultural machinery as well as heavy equipment, forestry machinery and other products.

UAW members approved a six-year deal by a vote of 61 percent to 39 percent on Wednesday. It follows two other failed agreements.

In addition to the immediate 10 percent raise, workers will receive an $8,500 signing bonus, a 20 percent pay rise over the lifetime of the contract and lump sum payments equivalent to 3 percent of pay in the the deal's second, fourth and sixth years.

In a statement on Wednesday, UAW welcomed the agreement and appeared to link it to the wider economic conditions in the U.S.

"A strike that captured the mood of a nation in search of fairness in wages and benefits for workers, ended today when UAW John Deere members ratified a landmark agreement after weeks of striking," the statement said.

The strike led to delays making replacement parts, upon which many American farmers rely, and saw the cost of used farm equipment reach record highs. This included bidding wars for used tractors - an essential piece of farm equipment.

UAW President Ray Curry thanked members for "their willingness to sacrifice," according to the union's statement.

"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," Curry said.

UAW Vice President Chuck Browning said members had achieved "a groundbreaking contract" and had set "a new standard for workers not only within the UAW but throughout the country."

Deere & Company CEO John May also welcomed the agreement.

"I'm pleased our highly skilled employees are back to work," May said. "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."

The company will inform employees that they are now due back to work.

A Striking Worker Pickers John Deere
Striking workers picket outside of the John Deere Davenport Works facility on October 15, 2021, in Davenport, Iowa. The workers have now agreed a deal to end the strike with more than 60 percent voting in favor of it. Scott Olson/Getty Images