Deere, UAW reach tentative labor agreement; strike continues for now

Associated Press

Farm equipment manufacturer Deere & Co. reached a tentative labor agreement Saturday with the United Auto Workers union.

But a UAW strike that began Oct. 14 will continue -- and details of the proposed contract will not be released -- while workers study the terms of the agreement in advance of a vote.

Members of the United Auto Workers strike outside of a John Deere plant, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, in Ankeny, Iowa.

The pact would cover more than 10,000 production and maintenance workers at 12 Deere sites in Iowa, Illinois and Kansas.

The strike began after UAW workers overwhelmingly rejected an initial proposed contract that would have delivered immediate 5% raises for some workers and 6% for others depending on their positions at Deere factories. The pact also called for 3% raises in 2023 and 2025.

After the first deal was rejected, UAW “negotiators focused on improving the areas of concern identified by our members,’’ said Chuck Browning, director of the union’s farm equipment department.

The U.S. economy’s unexpectedly strong rebound from last year’s brief but intense coronavirus recession has created labor shortages -- and handed workers more leverage to demand higher pay and better benefits.

The contract talks come as strong sales this year helped Moline, Illinois-based Deere report $4.7 billion net income for the first nine months of its fiscal year, which was more than double the $2 billion it reported a year ago.

The company is expecting to earn more than $5.7 billion this fiscal year.