DETROIT (AP) – Deere & Co. workers on Wednesday. approved a new contract that provides for an immediate 10 percent increase and an end to the monthly strike for more than 10,000 employees.
United Auto Workers said 61 percent of its members approved the tractor manufacturer’s deal after a third vote, although the offer was strikingly similar to an offer that 55 percent of workers rejected two weeks ago.
Deere workers – and other unions – have dared to ask for more this year due to an ongoing shortage of workers and because workers did not always feel grateful working overtime during the pandemic.
This latest proposal made only minor changes to the details of Deere’s internal incentive plan. The new contract extends to 12 factories in Iowa, Illinois and Kansas that manufacture iconic John Deere green agricultural and construction equipment from Molina, Illinois.
The company said it would resume work on Wednesday night.
Following the last vote on November 2, Deere officials told the union not to expect the company to offer more money, and Deere has largely adhered to that promise in its latest offer, which it called final.
The workers have been on strike since October 14th. And in recent weeks, they have had to endure colder temperatures on picket lines, trying to get by with the union’s $ 275 weekly strike pay or by looking for another job.
READ MORE: Labor shortages make union workers feel more daring
“UAW John Deere members didn’t just come together, they seemed to unite the nation in the fight for fairness in the workplace,” UAW President Ray Curry said in a statement Wednesday night.
Deere CEO John S. May said he is delighted that workers will return to their jobs, “creating and supporting industry-leading products that make our customers more profitable and sustainable.”
Aside from the initial hike, the offer this week retained the 5 percent gain that was in the third and fifth years of the six-year deal, and the 3 percent lump sums in the second, fourth and sixth years of the deal. The proposal will also provide a ratification bonus of $ 8,500, retain retirement options for new hires, allow workers to qualify for health insurance faster, and keep their health insurance premium-free.
In this latest proposal, Deere has changed the complex formula it uses to determine which employees receive bonuses based on whether their team has achieved certain performance goals. Changes to the formula could make it easier for employees to be eligible for incentive payments, but there are some Deere employees who are not eligible for bonuses based on the work they do in the company’s factories and warehouses.
Workers were expecting more from Deere, which predicted it would report record annual profits of $ 5.7 billion to $ 5.9 billion when it releases its earnings report later this month. More than 90 percent of workers rejected Deere’s original offer, but the second vote was much closer after the company actually doubled the raise it was proposing.
Another group of workers, represented by the UAW, went on strike earlier this year at the Volvo Trucks plant in Virginia and received higher wages and lower medical services after rejecting three preliminary contract bids. Currently, about 1,400 Kellogg workers have been on strike since the beginning of last month at the company’s four grain mills in the United States.