By Tyler Jett, Des Moines Register
The United Auto Workers International and Deere & Co. have reached a tentative new contract, which could lead to the end of a strike that began more than two weeks ago.
UAW Vice President and Director of the Agricultural Implement Department Chuck Browning said in a statement that the agreement includes “enhanced economic gains.” The union said it will not release details of the contract until members can meet and review the agreement.
The union added that its 10,100 Deere employees will remain on strike at least until a vote on the contract. The UAW did not say when that vote might occur.
UAW Local 450, which represents about 1,000 workers in Ankeny, posted on Facebook that members “should” see a summary of the new contract at noon Sunday, with a ratification vote coming Tuesday.
“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,” said UAW President Ray Curry.
A Deere spokesperson declined to comment on the contract, other than to confirm that the two sides reached a deal.
About 90% of members rejected the first tentative agreement between the union and Deere on Oct. 10. The union called a strike four days later, saying that Deere officials failed to meet the UAW’s demands. The two sides returned to the bargaining table Oct. 18.
The first proposed agreement would have raised members’ wages by 5% or 6%, depending on the job. The company also offered a better pension program, with 25-year veteran workers receiving an extra $100 a month once they retired.
At the same time, the company wanted to end the pension program for employees hired after Nov. 1.
The contract negotiations come as Deere celebrates record profits, with the company projecting net income of $5.7 billion to $5.9 billion for the fiscal year that ends at the end of this month. Company CEO John May’s pay increased 160% in 2020, from $6 million to about $15.6 million.
Many workers told The Des Moines Register they were willing to hold out for a better contract after working through the height of the pandemic. They were also emboldened by the fact the company has struggled to hire enough workers — as well as the fact that Deere has booked orders for some machines through the end of next year.
The proposed contract represents Deere workers at 14 factories, including in Ankeny, Davenport, Dubuque, Ottumwa and Waterloo.