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John Deere employees reject recent contract offer

John Deere employees reject recent contract offer

More than 50 percent of employees voted against the deal

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Strikes will continue at 12 John Deere plants in the U.S. as employees rejected the latest contract offer on Tuesday.

Fifty-five percent of workers in Illinois, Iowa and Kansas voted against the deal while 45 percent voted in favor. This means about 10,000 employees will continue picketing.

“The strike against John Deere and company will continue as we discuss next steps with the company,” the United Auto Workers (UAW), the union representing John Deere employees, said in a statement.

The UAW and John Deere reached a tentative six-year agreement on Saturday.

The UAW presented the same contract to about 100 John Deere employees in Denver and Atlanta. Workers at those facilities voted in favor of the agreement.

John Deere employees originally went on strike on Oct. 14 after 90 percent of workers voted down John Deere’s first contract offer.

Employees felt the deal didn’t include enough to compensate them for helping the company earn nearly $6 billion in earnings.

The new contract included a 10 percent wage increase, 30 percent wage increases over the term of the contract, new paid parental leave, autism care and an $8,500 ratification bonus.

In total, John Deere planned to invest an additional $3.5 billion into their employees, said Marc Howze, chief administration officer with John Deere.

“This investment was the right one for Deere, our employees, and everyone we serve together,” he said in a statement. “Even though it would have created greater competitive challenges within our industries, we had faith in our employees’ ability to sharpen our competitive edge.”

Some employees rejected the contract because they want to secure better wages for future workers.

“I’m not thinking about me,” Douglas Woolam, a multi-generational employee at John Deere Seeding Group in Moline, Iowa, told the Des Moines Register. "I'm thinking about people behind me. My dad thought about people behind him. My aunt thought about people behind her. And my grandfather thought about people behind him."

Others, however, voted in favor of the contract Tuesday.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Chris Sinn, a plumber at John Deere Des Moines Works in Ankeny, told the Des Moines Register.

It’s unclear when John Deere and the UAW will return to the bargaining table.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help support striking workers.

As of Nov. 3 the fundraiser has collected $137,537.

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