UAW members overwhelmingly reject tentative John Deere contract

Union members gathered at the Tax Slayer Center to vote on ratification.
Published: Oct. 10, 2021 at 4:44 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 10, 2021 at 9:01 PM CDT
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MOLINE, Illinois (KWQC) - The United Auto Workers (UAW) overwhelmingly rejected the tentative agreement set with John Deere. UAW Vice-President Chuck Browning says 90% of the membership voted against the contract on Sunday.

UAW Local 281 reports 767 voted no on the tentative contract, with 124 in favor of it. UAW Local 434 had 465 against the agreement, 66 in favor. UAW Local 838 reports 2,518 employees voted against the contract, 189 were for it.

“After weeks of negotiations, John Deere reached tentative agreements with the UAW that would have made the best wages and most comprehensive benefits in our industries significantly better for our employees,” said Brad Morris, vice president of labor relations for Deere & Company. “John Deere remains fully committed to continuing the collective bargaining process in an effort to better understand our employees’ viewpoints. In the meantime, our operations will continue as normal.”

The bargaining committee will reportedly meet Monday morning in Moline with a strike deadline set for Wednesday at midnight, per UAW Local 281.

Voting started in downtown Moline at the Tax Slayer Center at 10 a.m. But earlier, union members gathered for a meeting to go over some key issues the group had identified in the contract.

Those included changes to health care and locking in copays for the entire contract, improvements to pension and retirement plans, the reinstatement of COLA, expansions on parental and bereavement leave, enhancements to the procedure for reporting grievances, and wage increases, among other points.

A TV6 crew on scene spoke to union members who indicated two parts of the contract were motivators for them to vote no.

The first was the wage increases, which more than one member estimated would come out to a $1.20 raise over five years. They said it doesn’t feel like that amount accounts for inflation or the overall profits of the company.

The other common concern was retirement benefits, specifically healthcare. A voter told TV 6 crews that the retirement healthcare plan is a flat bonus based on the number of years the employee worked at John Deere. That voter and others expressed that the amount wasn’t enough to cover retirement healthcare, or that it couldn’t cover all possible health emergencies.

In a statement from the UAW directors of regions 4 and 8 earlier this week, they said in part: “We feel this tentative agreement addresses our members’ needs and creates the future they deserve.”

If this contract is ratified, it will go into effect for more than 10,000 John Deere employees at 12 plants in Illinois, Iowa, and Kansas.

This story will be updated as more details become available.

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