Striking Deere workers are set to vote Tuesday on new contract offer

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Striking workers for Deere & Co. are scheduled to vote Tuesday on a contract proposal offering bigger raises and bonuses, as the farm-equipment maker tries to end its first strike in 35 years.

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Deere announced a tentative deal on Saturday for a six-year contract that bumps up the raises and bonus levels from a proposal that members of the United Auto Workers union rejected three weeks ago. Workers said the earlier offer of raises and other benefits was inadequate at the same time inflation is at its highest in over a decade. More than 10,000 workers at 14 plants went on strike.

JOHN DEERE REACHES AGREEMENT WITH LABOR UNION FOLLOWING STRIKE

The new proposal would provide 10% raises for this year, vs. the 5% to 6% increase for the first year included in the previous offer, according to a summary of the offer distributed by the union.

Striking workers for Deere & Co. are scheduled to vote Tuesday on a contract proposal offering bigger raises and bonuses, as the farm-equipment maker tries to end its first strike in 35 years. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) (Scott Olson/Getty Images / Getty Images)

The briefing from the union said workers would receive 5% raises in 2023 and 2025, up from 3% increases in the previous offer. Workers would receive lump-sum bonuses amounting to 3% of their pay for 2022, 2024 and 2026, compared with 2% bonuses in the offer voted down. Employees also would receive an $8,500 bonus if the deal is ratified Tuesday.

The company and union both declined to comment on the proposal.

DAVENPORT, IOWA – OCTOBER 15: At truck hauls a piece of John Deere equipment from the factory past workers picketing outside of the John Deere Davenport Works facility on October 15, 2021 in Davenport, Iowa. More than 10,000 John Deere employees, rep (Scott Olson/Getty Images / Getty Images)

Strikes in the heavy-equipment industry have become infrequent in the past decade, and Deere in particular has had a long run of contract negotiations without a walkout. The strike at Deere and other companies came amid widespread labor shortages that have helped push up wages for existing employees.

Workers said the raises in the proposal they turned down, particularly in the later years of the proposal, weren’t high enough to keep up with inflation. The federal government’s consumer price index is up more than 5% this year, the biggest increase since 2008.

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Deere employees said they considered the contract negotiations as their best opportunity in years to secure higher pay and better benefits than provided in the last pair of six-year contracts that were negotiated when the U.S. economy or the farm-equipment market was weak.

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