John Deere, United Auto Workers report reaching third tentative contract agreement amid strike

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Deere & Co. and the United Auto Workers have agreed to a third potential contract, the union announced Friday night.

After UAW members in Iowa, Illinois and Kansas voted down two previous agreements over the last month, representatives for the company and the union met again Thursday and Friday. According to a UAW news release, the two sides reached a new agreement that includes “modest modifications” over the most recent rejected contract offer.

It did not provide specifics about the contract, which UAW spokesperson Brian Rothenberg said Deere called the company’s “last, best and final offer.”

Deere spokesperson Jennifer Hartmann did not immediately return a message seeking comment Friday night, but she told the Des Moines Register last week that the company would not increase the amount of money offered to the strikers after the UAW rejected the second contract Nov. 2.

More: Deere executive says increased overseas production possible as UAW strike continues

Rothenberg said the union has not decided when it will present its members details of the contract offer or when it will hold a vote.

“The UAW will present the Company’s offer for ratification and, as has been the case throughout the bargaining process, will support the outcome,” Rothenberg said in a statement.

Workers with the UAW picket outside of John Deere Des Moines Works in Ankeny, Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021.

Workers with the UAW picket outside of John Deere Des Moines Works in Ankeny, Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021.

About 10,100 UAW members have been on strike since Oct. 14. They include some 7,000 Iowa workers in Ankeny, Davenport, Dubuque, Ottumwa and Waterloo.

About 90% of members rejected the first contract proposed by the union and the company on Oct. 10, saying its offer of 5% to 6% raises, depending on position, was inadequate.

More: Everybody wants a John Deere tractor. But not everybody wants a John Deere job. Why?

The second contract offer called or raising wages by 10%, boosted retirement benefits and preserved the pension program that would have been eliminated for new hires under the first offer.

Fifty-five percent of UAW members rejected that contract, continuing the strike.

More: After 3½ weeks and two contract rejections, which side in John Deere strike can hold out longer?

The union did not specify what Deere meant when it said this third contract will be its “last, best and final offer.” That language can signify that the company is prepared to declare an impasse if the contract fails to win ratification.

If the company declares an impasse, labor lawyers say, Deere can offer the contract to any workers willing to cross the picket line. But the union could challenge Deere’s declaration before the National Labor Relations Board, kicking off a potentially long, contentious court battle that could force the two sides back to the bargaining table once again.

Tyler Jett covers jobs and the economy for the Des Moines Register. Reach him at [email protected], 515-284-8215, or on Twitter at @LetsJett.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: For third time, John Deere, UAW reach tentative contract agreement



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