The United Auto Workers says its negotiators are still working out their next moves after the union's striking John Deere employees rejected a second tentative agreement that the agriculture equipment firm said was its "final" offer.
On Tuesday, John Deere's UAW members voted to reject an offer from the company that would have meant a 30% pay raise over the six-year term of the contract, along with an $8,500 ratification bonus and new paid parental leave, among other benefits boosts, while maintaining their zero-premium health care coverage.
Roughly 55% of John Deere's UAW membership voted down the deal. The initial offer was rejected by 90% of workers, and would have meant immediate pay raises of 5% and 6% depending on the worker, with 3% raises in subsequent years.
After workers turned down the second deal, Deere & Co. chief administrative officer Marc Howze told Bloomberg, "The agreement that we provided is frankly our best and final offer. In order for us to be competitive we have gone as far as we're gonna go."
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Howze added, "We're not going back to the bargaining table. There's nothing else to bargain about."
Upon news of the second rejection on Tuesday of the contract covering more than 10,000 Deere workers in several Midwest states, Howze said in a statement that the company would "execute the next phase of our Customer Service Continuation Plan." Deere has kept operations at their affected plants running since the October 14 strike began by calling in trained, salaried non-union employees.
Deere spokesperson Jennifer Hartmann told FOX Business Wednesday evening, "We are continuing discussions with the UAW, but we believe we’ve exhausted our options economically – while still remaining competitive. Our employees currently earn the best wages and benefits in the industry."
When reached by FOX Business for a response to Deere's position, UAW spokesperson Brian Rothenburg said, "We are still on strike. The elected bargaining team Vice President [Chuck] Browning and the UAW team continue to discuss next steps."
"The UAW appreciates the community support of our members on the picket line," Rothenburg added.