DETROJTO (AP) – Workers of Deere & Co. approved a new contract on Wednesday that will deliver 10% hikes and end a month-long strike for more than 10,000 employees.
The United Auto Workers (UAW) union said 61% of its members approved the deal with the tractor maker in its third vote, although this offer was strikingly similar to the one 55% of workers rejected two weeks ago.
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Deere workers – and other unions – have been encouraged to ask for more this year because of the continuing lack of work and because workers have not always felt valued working long hours during the pandemic.
This latest proposal has made only modest changes to the details of Deere’s internal incentive payment. The new contract covers 12 plants in Iowa, Illinois and Kansas where the iconic John Deere green agricultural and construction equipment of the Moline, an Illinois-based company is made.
The company said work will resume Wednesday night.
After the last vote on Nov. 2, Deere officials told the union not to expect the company to offer more money, and Deere largely kept that promise in its last offer, which it called its final.
The workers have been on strike since October 14. And in recent weeks, they have had to endure colder and colder temperatures along the picket lines, trying to endure the union’s $ 275 in weekly strike pay or finding other work.
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“UAW members John Deere not only came together, they seemed to unite the nation in a fight for justice in the workplace,” UAW President Ray Curry said in a statement Wednesday night.
Deere CEO John C. May said he is excited that workers will return to work “building and maintaining the industry-leading products that make our customers more profitable and sustainable.”
In addition to the initial increases, this week’s supply retained the 5% increases that were in the third and fifth years of the six-year deal and 3% lower payments in the second, fourth and sixth years of the deal. The offer would also provide a $ 8,500 ratification bonus, maintain a pension option for new employees, make workers eligible for health insurance earlier and maintain their no-premium health insurance coverage.
What Deere did in this last offer was to adjust the complicated formula it uses to determine which workers receive bonuses based on whether their team achieves certain productivity goals. The changes in the formula could make it easier for workers to qualify for the incentive pay, but there are some Deere workers who are not allowed to receive the bonuses based on the work they do in the company’s factories and warehouses.
Workers expected more from Deere, which predicted it would report record annual profits between $ 5.7 billion and $ 5.9 billion when it released its revenue report later this month. More than 90% of workers rejected Deere’s initial offer, but the second vote was much closer after the company essentially doubled the wage increases it offered.
Another group of workers represented by UAW went on strike earlier this year at a Volvo Trucks factory in Virginia and secured a better wage and lower-cost health benefits after a rejection of three probationary contract offers. Currently, about 1,400 Kellogg workers have been on strike since early last month at the company’s four U.S. cereal factories.
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