John Deere to reach out directly to workers as UAW strike drags on

Deere & Co. official says employees need to know there is 'nothing to be gained' by continuing strike

John Deere says it is preparing to appeal directly to their striking workers represented by the United Auto Workers in an effort to sell more of them on the company's latest and "final" offer in order to get them back to work.

"We are preparing some communication that will be really focused on the benefits of the agreement," Deere & Co. chief administrative officer Marc Howze told FOX Business of the tentative deal 55% of the 10,000 striking workers rejected earlier this week.

John Deere

John Deere tractors. (Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images) (Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group / Getty Images)

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The offer from Deere would mean a 30% pay raise over the next six years, along with an $8,500 ratification bonus and what the company says are "industry-leading" benefits including new paid parental leave and zero-premium health care coverage.

Deere still maintains that the offer was the best they could do in order to remain competitive, but they are still in talks with union negotiators. Now, the ball is in the UAW's court as far as next moves regarding the strike that began Oct. 14.

Members of the United Auto Workers listen to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack speak outside of a John Deere plant, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, in Ankeny, Iowa. About 10,000 UAW workers have gone on strike against John Deere since last Thursday at plan ((AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall) / AP Newsroom)


Howze says that since Deere was so quick to come back with a higher offer after their first tentative deal was rejected by 90% of the striking workers, some folks might have gotten the sense that "there was more money on the table because we didn't hold out."

"We're not playing with people's lives," he told FOX Business. "We wanted to get out – as quickly as we could – with what was our best offer and to let people know what the economics of this agreement are…and we want to make sure that they recognize there's nothing to be gained by staying out."

Deere is keeping up with production during the strike thanks to salaried employees working "around the clock literally" and with other plants upping output, he explained. The agriculture equipment giant has around 77,000 employees globally to pick up the slack.

John Deere UAW strike

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)


But Howe reiterated that Deere values its striking employees and wants to see them back to work as soon as possible.

"These are our neighbors," he says of the picketing UAW workers. "These are the people we go to church with, that we go to temple with. Our children play on the soccer team together."

Pointing out that the strike also comes at the critical harvest season for Deere's farmer customers, Howze added, "So, let's not dilly-dally and let's figure it out."