United Automobile Workers announced on Saturday that it had reached a preliminary agreement with agricultural equipment maker Deere & Company that could potentially end a strike involving some 10,000 workers that began in mid-October. The agreement must be approved by the union members.
Deere workers mainly in Iowa and Illinois went on strike after canceling their initial agreement with the company earlier this month. Many workers complained that an earlier proposed contract had resulted in insufficient wage increases and denied new hires a traditional pension, despite the company achieving record profits of nearly $ 6 billion this year.
“The talks focused on improving the areas of concern identified by our members during the most recent ratification process,” said Chuck Browning, UAW vice president who oversaw the negotiations, in a statement saying “increasing the economic benefits of the new agreement.”
The statement also said the agreement “continues to provide the highest quality medical benefits in the industry,” but does not mention specific pension provisions. The union said it will not release details of the agreement until John Deere workers are familiar with them.
Deere and Company confirmed the agreement in a statement, but did not provide further details.
The original agreement, rejected by members, was announced by the union on October 1, and this year wages were to increase by 5 or 6 percent, depending on the worker’s wage level, and another 3 percent in 2023 and 2025.
This would increase pension payments for many workers, but traditional pension payments for workers hired after 1997 would remain well below traditional payments for workers hired before this year, and new workers would not receive a traditional pension at all.
The workforce shutdown came at a time when the number of strikes increased from the previous several months, including more than 1,000 Kellogg workers and more than 2,000 hospital workers in New York City.
Some Deere workers are suspicious of their union leadership amid a series of corruption scandals involving UAW officials and executives at a company then known as Fiat Chrysler, which have resulted in more than 15 convictions. Among them were two recent UAW presidents.