Updated Nov 17, 2021 - Economy & Business

Deere workers end strike after approving new contract

  At truck hauls a piece of John Deere equipment from the factory past workers picketing outside of the John Deere Davenport Works facility on October 15, 2021 in Davenport, Iowa.

Factory workers picket outside of the John Deere Davenport Works facility in Davenport, Iowa, in October. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Some 10,000 unionized Deere & Company workers ended their monthlong strike Wednesday after ratifying a new contract offer by a vote of 61% to 39%, the United Automobile Workers (UAW) union announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: The first labor strike at the John Deere tractors maker since 1986 symbolizes the effect the pandemic has had on the economy and workers, as almost two years of COVID-19 measures including lockdowns spurred many employees to campaign for better conditions, per the Washington Post.

Details: The new six-year contract includes an agreement for more generous performance pay, per a UAW statement.

  • Under the agreement, workers will get an $8,500 signing bonus, a 20% increase in wages over the lifetime of the contract with 10% this year, three 3% lump sum payments and enhanced options for retirement, among other benefits.

The big picture: The workers went on strike last month after rejecting a deal reached between the agriculture equipment manufacturer and UAW negotiators on a contract proposal. They rejected a second contract proposal earlier this month.

Between the lines: The fact the workers voted down two proposals with significant wage gains shows how strong their bargaining position was amid nationwide labor shortages, the New York Times notes.

What they're saying: UAW President Ray Curry said in a statement: "UAW John Deere members did not just unite themselves, they seemed to unite the nation in a struggle for fairness in the workplace."

  • Deere CEO John May said in a statement he's pleased that "our highly skilled employees are back to work."
  • "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," May added.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper