John Deere workers, who have been on a two-week long strike, have reached their second tentative deal (for six years) with their employer. But union members will continue to strike until the contract is ratified.
As part of the deal, workers who are members of the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) would receive a 10% raise immediately, a five percent raise in 2023 and 2025, a three percent bonus in even-number years, $2,000 per year of work added to retirement and an $8,500 ratification bonus. New workers would also be allowed to keep the traditional retirement plan.
UAW represents workers in several Iowa factories and like Waterloo, Dubuque, Davenport, Ottumwa and Ankeny along with workers in Illinois and Kansas.
All workers (10,100) would be affected by the new contract.
This is the first UAW strike against John Deere since 1986.
“John Deere is committed to a favorable outcome for our employees, our communities, and everyone involved,” said Brad Morris, vice president of labor relations for Deere & Company, in a statement this past month. “We are determined to reach an agreement with the UAW that would put every employee in a better economic position and continue to make them the highest paid employees in the agriculture and construction industries.”
Workers at John Deere, members of UAW, went on strike on Oct. 14, 2021, during the company’s most profitable year-to-date. Workers want a wage increase, better health benefits and the security of their pensions.
“When unions are strong, Iowa families are strong. What our members are doing shows that firsthand,” stated Roger Grobstich, vice president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). “I’m incredibly proud of the work Local 110 did to rally these donations and has been doing in support of our sisters and brothers at John Deere. The demands of UAW members are the demands of the entire labor movement, an injustice to one of us is an injustice to all of us.”
Other unions have publicly shown solidarity with the plight of John Deere workers.
“These frontline workers, who have been on the job throughout the coronavirus pandemic, build the equipment used to harvest crops and feed America,” stated Teamsters Union General President Jim Hoffa. “As brothers and sisters in the labor movement, the Teamsters understand the struggle for fairness on the job and will honor the UAW’s picket lines.”
“Workers across the country are done being called ‘essential’ yet treated as expendable,” AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler said on Twitter. “As #Strikesgiving begins, thousands of workers––including UAW members at John Deere––are on strike for a better future. We’re with them all the way!”
One union went the extra mile to prove its solidarity with UAW members.
Earlier this week, some members of RWDSU Local 110 delivered food and supplies in support of the workers on strike at John Deere. The packages included diapers, hand warmers, toiletries, food, frozen meat as well as cases of cereal and snacks made by General Mills and Quaker (fellow Local 110 members) in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
“This is America’s heartland, and the heart our members are showing is just who we are,” said Shane Forbes, president of RWDSU Local 110. “We know that if we were in their shoes they’d do the same for us, that’s what being in a union is all about, having each other’s backs.”
John Deere spokespeople said that there’s no timeline for when workers would resume activity once a deal is official.
“Our UAW John Deere national bargaining team went back to our local members after the previous tentative agreement and canvassed the concerns and priorities of membership.” said UAW President Ray Curry in a statement. “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. Our members have enjoyed the support of our communities and the entire labor movement nationwide as they have stood together in support and solidarity these past few weeks.”