The United Auto Workers union announced Wednesday that 61% of members at Deere voted in favor of what the company had described as its last and best offer.
Both offers, the one that was rejected in a November 2 vote and the one accepted Wednesday, contain substantial gains for the union members. Both included a 10% immediate raise, an $8,500 signing bonus, additional 5% raises in the third and fifth year of the proposed six-year deal, and additional lump sum payments equal to 3% of pay in years two, four and six. In addition it restored a cost-of-living adjustment to protect workers from increases in consumer prices. Such clauses used to be common in union contracts but have become relatively rare in recent years.
The union said the offer that is the subject of this week’s vote had “modest modifications” from that previous, rejected tentative agreement.
The company will notify the strikers when they are expected to return to work. The vote and the deal were praised by leadership at both the UAW and Deere.
“I’m pleased our highly skilled employees are back to work,” said CEO John May. “John Deere’s success depends on the success of our people. Through our new collective bargaining agreements, we’re giving employees the opportunity to earn wages and benefits that are the best in our industries and are groundbreaking in many ways.”
“Our members courageous willingness to strike in order to attain a better standard of living and a more secure retirement resulted in a groundbreaking contract and sets a new standard for workers not only within the UAW but throughout the country,” said UAW Vice President Chuck Browning, head of the unit of the union that deals with Deere.
But despite the improved pay and benefits, many union members apparently voted no in all three votes. They believed that Deere, which has been reporting record profits in recent quarters amid strong demand for its farming and construction equipment, could afford to give more, especially after previous contracts in which workers had given the company various concessions.