The five-week-long strike between Deere & Co. and more than 10,000 of its workers finally came to an end on Wednesday after United Auto Workers members approved a new six-year contract with the farm equipment maker on their third vote.
In a statement, the United Auto Workers union (UAW) said that 61 percent of its members approved the deal, which contained only modest modifications to an agreement put forward but ultimately rejected earlier this month.
The new agreement accepted on Wednesday would provide an $8,500 signing bonus; a 20 percent increase in wages over the lifetime of the contract with 10 percent this year; three 3 percent lump sum payments; enhanced options for retirement and enhanced CIPP performance benefits. In addition, it restored a cost-of-living adjustment to protect workers from increases in consumer prices.
Health care, meanwhile, remains the same for the life of the agreement. The new six-year collective bargaining agreement covers more than 10,000 workers at 14 facilities across the United States.
The biggest difference between the newly-accepted agreement and the second rejected one is that Deere tweaked the complicated formula it uses to determine which workers receive bonuses based on whether their team hits certain productivity goals. The new agreement simplifies this and could potentially make it easier for workers to qualify for the incentive pay.
Although, some workers at the company are not eligible for the bonuses based on the job they do in its factories and warehouses.
John C. May, chairman and chief executive officer for Deere, said he was pleased to see the company’s highly skilled employees return to work following weeks of negotiations and strikes.
“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,” the CEO said.
He added that operations “will resume on third shift tonight.”
Thousands of workers have been on strike since Oct. 14 at Deere’s 14 facilities, mostly located in the Midwest, in an effort to secure better benefits from the Moline, Illinois-based company, which made record annual profits of approximately $6 billion in 2021.
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,” Curry said in a statement.
Chuck Browning, vice president of the UAW and director of the UAW Agricultural Implement department, said union members had set a new precedent across the United States when it comes to fighting for a better standard of living.
“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,” Browning said.