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John Deere makes third, ‘final’ offer to end strike

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Third times the charm? That is what John Deere is hoping. In an announcement over the weekend, John Deere and the United Auto Workers have agreed to a third potential labor agreement. However, like the two prior tentative agreements, the employees must vote to either approve or deny the agreement. 

Last month, more than 10,000 John Deere workers went on strike after negotiations failed to deliver over the renewal of a six-year union contract. The first tentative agreement was rejected by an overwhelming 90 percent. However, the most recent vote on the second tentative agreement was rejected by only 55 percent. The third vote will happen on Wednesday, according to reports from the Des Moines Register. 

John Deere and Co. has made what it calls a “groundbreaking” offer to the UAW negotiating team that includes changes to the agreement that was presented for ratification on Nov. 2. The UAW replied in a statement to the offer, which it referred to as the “last, best and final” offer, by saying that it includes “modest modifications” to the previous tentative agreement.

According to the John Deere website, the third offer includes:

  1. Cost-of-living adjustments every 3 months for inflation. What does this mean? If inflation increases, their wages will too.
  2. A company-funded defined benefit pension plan and defined contribution plan (401k) to create more security in retirement. Why does this matter? In retirement, they will receive a monthly pension payment from John Deere and the benefit of tax-deferred savings bolstered by the company.
  3. An entirely new cash balance savings to provide more retirement income and flexibility. What will this give these employees? Tens of thousands of dollars more to spend after their career.

General Wage Increases (GWI) and Lump Sum Payments (LSP)

Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs)*

  • Protection against inflation
  • Adjusts every 3 months with inflation
  • Formula based on The Consumer Price Index (CPI-W) published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Industry-leading Health Insurance

  • Continuation of Deere Premiere Network
  • No change in copayments at point of care

Improvements

  • Paid parental leave
  • Vision care transitioned from every 24 months to every 12 months
  • Autism care coverage

However, UAW states that until the vote happens, the strike will continue. Current negotiations involve more than 10,000 production ​and maintenance employees at a dozen plants in Iowa, Illinois, and Kansas, as well as nearly 100 workers at Deere parts facilities in Colorado and Georgia.

Workers have been feeling for months that they had more leverage than in years past in terms of coming up with a new contract, with Deere & Co. at one of its most profitable points in history.

This is the first strike at John Deere in 35 years, when workers walked out for 163 days amid the 1980s’ farm crisis.

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