10-14 Deere Strike

Workers with the UAW Local 74 union strike outside of John Deere Ottumwa Works on Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021 in Ottumwa, Iowa.

OTTUMWA — The United Auto Workers and John Deere have reached a second tentative agreement on a new six-year contract, with a vote to take place Tuesday.

The local UAW 74 posted on its Facebook page Saturday morning that a ratification vote of the agreement will be Tuesday at 10 a.m. at Bridge View Center.

Picketing of the two-week-long strike will pause at midnight Tuesday to allow members to vote, then will continue until after the vote is taken.

“Our UAW John Deere national bargaining team went back to our local members after the previous tentative agreement and canvassed the concerns and priorities of membership,” UAW President Ray Curry said in a press release. “We want to thank the UAW bargaining team and striking UAW members and their families for the sacrifices they have made to achieve these gains.

"Our members have enjoyed the support of our communities and the entire labor movement nationwide as they have stood together in support and solidarity these past few weeks.”

The proposed agreement calls for an immediate 10% raise for all employees, along with an $8,500 ratification bonus. There would be additional 5% raises in years three and five of the agreement, and 3% lump-sum payments in the second, fourth and sixth years. Additionally, there are cost of living adjustments built in to account for inflation, which will adjust wages every three months. Over six years, the union projects members would see a 30% or more increase in their wages.

On the wage end, it's a significant change from the agreement that union workers rejected by a 90% margin in October. That deal called for an immediate raise of 5% or 6%, depending on the worker, with 3% raises in 2023 and 2025.

Additionally, the new proposal makes improvements to the retirement plan. The previous proposal from Deere was to cut the company's pension program for new employees. The proposed plan removes that cut and improves benefits for retirees.

The strike has affected 12 plants and 10,100 workers across Iowa, Illinois and Kansas. In Ottumwa, the UAW represents about 600 Deere employees. Employees have continued to receive health benefits from the company while the strike continues.

Profits have soured in the current fiscal year at Deere & Company, the formal name for the company famous for its green tractors and farm equipment. Before the strike, the company was expected to beat its record profit by 60% in the fiscal year that ended Monday. Between $5.7 billion and $5.9 billion in profits were expected by executives.

Through the first nine months of the fiscal year, the company had already posted $4.7 billion in income, doubling their profits from the same period a year earlier.

With the better financial performance, the company's CEO John May saw his pay increase by 160% from 2019 to 2020.

Deere also announced a tentative agreement with workers under a different contract, which impact the company's facilities in Denver and Atlanta. Both agreements would last six years if ratified.

Staff writer Chad Drury contributed to this report.

Kyle Ocker is the editor of the Ottumwa Courier and the Oskaloosa Herald. He can be reached at kocker@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.

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Kyle Ocker is a Centerville native and award-winning multimedia journalist. Kyle is currently the president of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and vice president of the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association.

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