WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL) – After 35 days on the picket line, John Deere employees returned to work Thursday. On Wednesday, the members of the United Auto Workers Union voted to ratify a new six-year contract with Deere & Co.
“It’s not that the union won and management lost,” said Paul Iversen, an employment educator at the University of Iowa. “In this situation, both have won and collective bargaining has served its essential purpose. The workers have come together and improved their performance, paid benefits and working conditions, and the employer will still be a very profitable company.”
Operations resumed for the third shift on Wednesday evening. UAW Local 838 in Waterloo said workers were not required to work the third shift unless they wanted to. At 7 a.m. on Thursday morning, all Deere employees were back to their regular shifts.
“It’s a win for Deere customers because they continue to get the high quality products they can count on,” said Iversen. “It’s a win for Deere because Deere can go back to production to bring its products out and they will be a profitable business now and in the future.”
The contract includes a signing bonus of $ 8,500; a 20% increase in wages over the contract period with 10% this year; Return of cost of living adjustments; three lump sums of 3%; expanded retirement options; and improved CIPP performance benefits. Health care coverage will remain the same for the life of the agreement, according to a union press release.
“It’s a victory for the Deere workers because they stood up for themselves. And for future generations, and they got a much better contract than they would have gotten without a strike,” Iversen said.
Iversen said the ratification was good news for communities with Deere factories. The UAW leaders thanked their communities for supporting them over the past month and helping their members weather the strike.
“Because they can keep good jobs, the money that goes into the pockets of Deere workers,” he said. “It’s not going to offshore bank accounts. It’s being spent in the community to create a resilient economy.”
The 35-day strike resulted in some delays in obtaining replacement parts for their tractors and other farm equipment. It also affected dealers and suppliers who work with John Deere.
“They will have a motivated workforce that will want to get back to work and make the products that they do so well,” said Iversen. “Whether or not they will ever make production there are a number of factors that will contribute, but I can tell you that the workers will work hard to make the product that Deere needs to meet their customers’ demands. “
Iversen said the deal and the success of the strike are a win for workers everywhere and give hope to others who want to improve conditions in their workplaces.
“When your terms are bad and you think you can never do anything about it, just despair. You need that glimmer of hope that something can be different, and that’s what this strike brought about,” he said. “People can watch it, and when the workers get together and say, we don’t assume this, you have to do better, they can even win against a Fortune 100 company and get a better contract than works better for all of them.” . “
During his media presence on Thursday, Iowa Democratic Party leader Ross Wilburn, who spent time on the Waterloo picket line last weekend, said he was proud of UAW members and praised them for their courage in standing up to John Deere Offer.
“Not only have their sacrifices made their families’ lives better, but they have shown all of us the value of standing together to fight for a better future,” said Wilburn. “It is not too much to ask for good benefits, a secure retirement age, and ways to raise a family.”
House minority leader Jennifer Konfrst, D-Windsor Heights, said Deere workers and their families have fought and sacrificed not only for themselves but for future generations of Deere workers as well.
“This strike had an impact and made the lives of everyone who works at Deere and will work for Deere next,” she said. “These people stood so selflessly for one another and for those who don’t even work there.”
Mariannette Miller-Meeks MP, who represents Iowa’s Second Congressional District and lives in Ottumwa, home of a John Deere factory, said the deal will benefit Iowa’s economy.
“This deal will go a long way in supporting the Iowa economy and ensuring we continue to be the best place to work, live, do business and raise a family,” tweeted Miller-Meeks.
Nice to hear that John Deere and UAW reached an agreement tonight. This deal will go a long way in supporting the Iowa economy and ensuring we continue to be the best place to work, live, do business and raise a family
– Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, MD (@RepMMM) November 18, 2021
Ashley Hinson Rep., Representing Iowa’s Second Congressional District, welcomed the news.
“John Deere workers contribute so much to our community and economy, and I’m glad both parties were able to come to an agreement,” she tweeted.
That’s good news. John Deere employees contribute so much to our community and economy, and I’m glad both parties were able to reach an agreement
– Ashley Hinson (@RepAshleyHinson) November 18, 2021
Like most companies, John Deere is working to fill a handful of open positions within the company. Iversen said it could help the company fill these positions.
“Now they have a higher wage base and better conditions, and it will make it easier for them to take on new workers,” he said. “It helps them to keep this highly qualified workforce and to continue to recruit highly qualified workers in the future.”