John Deere, UAW reach agreement, ending strike

The strike was the first at the company since 1986.

Updated: November 20, 2021 - 12:26am

United Auto Worker (UAW) John Deere production and maintenance members struck an agreement and went back to work Thursday after five weeks of striking. The strike was the first at the company since 1986.

The majority (61%) of the members approved a six-year contract with the billion-dollar manufacturer headquartered in Moline, IL, the union said in a news release. The workers had rejected two earlier offers from the company.

The agreement covers more than 10,000 workers at 14 facilities across the United States, according to a John Deere news release.

The agreement includes a $8,500 signing bonus and enhancements in retirement options and Continuous Improvement Payment Plan performance benefits, the release said. Wages will increase 10% this year, and there will be a 20% increase in wages over the contract period, along with cost of living adjustments and three 3% lump sum payments. Health care insurance plans will begin the first day of the month after 30 days of employment.

CEO and Chairman John C. May said in the John Deere news release the terms of the agreement give employees wages and benefits that are “the best” in its industries and “groundbreaking in many ways.” May said that the company believes employees will in exchange improve the company’s competitiveness.

UAW leadership praised the striking members for their teamwork.

“UAW John Deere members did not just unite themselves, they seemed to unite the nation in a struggle for fairness in the workplace.,” UAW President Ray Curry said in the release. “We could not be more proud of these UAW members and their families.”

In a Des Moines Register poll conducted Nov. 7 to 10, the majority of 810 Iowan adults polled (58%) said they mostly sided with the workers, 16% said they mostly sided with employers, 19% were unsure, and 7% supported neither group.

“I'm glad to see the process working, and I hope everyone got enough of what they wanted to be satisfied,” Iowa Farmers Union board member John Gilbert, a farmer in Hardin County, told The Center Square in an emailed statement Thursday. “I'm sure their efforts are an inspiration for workers everywhere. It's a sign one more of the issues confronting our society can be resolved by working together.”