10,000 John Deere Union Workers Make Historic Gains, Ending Five-Week Strike

The United Auto Workers Union is calling the agreement a "landmark agreement" after John Deere workers voted to end their strike.

Workers voted in favor of the agreement which will provide a 20% increase in wages over the course of the contract. John Deere workers will receive a signing bonus and enhanced retirement options.

Chuck Browning, Vice President of the UAW and Director of the UAW Agricultural Implement department wrote in a statement that the sacrifice and solidarity displayed by John Deere members combined with the determination of their negotiators made this accomplishment possible. They have started a movement for workers in this country by what has been achieved here today and they have earned the admiration and respect of all that strive for what is just and equitable in the workplace.

John Deere had record profits and the strike occurred in that context. The company reported earlier this year that it had earned more in the first nine months of the year than it had in the entire fiscal year. The striking workers probably gained more leverage from the record profits, the historic labor shortage, and the worsening supply chain and component shortages.

John Deere Chairman and CEO John C. May said in a statement that the new collective bargaining agreements give employees the opportunity to earn wages and benefits that are the best in their industries. In return, our employees will find new and better ways to improve our competitiveness and transform the way our customers do their work.

The John Deere worker strike began after they voted against a six-year bargaining agreement. According to the Des Moines Register, the agreement would have ended the company's pension program for new fires after November 1, but it would have increased pay and retirement benefits.

One of the workers who voted against the agreement was a welder named Marty Carter.

John Deer was the best place to work. Carter told the Register that it isn't anymore. I think about our kids. When they grow older, we need great places for them to work. This isn't going to happen.

The John Deere workers rejected a second proposal three weeks after they began their strike. John Deere employees held fast to their strike despite the second offer doubling annual raises from around 5-10% and adding $150 more per month to pensions for 25-year employees. John Deere Union workers have not gone on strike since 1986, when the company faced layoffs during the worst farming crisis in the US since the Great Depression.

The John Deer strike could potentially have a domino effect on the US economy, which has seen organized labor dwindle. According to the law firm, at least 40 workplaces have gone on strike in the U.S. since August 1. That is more than double the amount in 2020. According to a recent Gallup Poll, public perception of unionization in the US has reached their highest point since 1965, as this surge in labor activity comes. Democrats and Republicans both said they approved of unions.

UAW President Ray Curry said in a statement that John Deere members seemed to unite the nation in a struggle for fairness in the workplace. We are proud of the UAW members and their families.