Next steps: Deere continues talks with UAW after workers vote against contract

Local News

Now that the UAW strike at John Deere will continue after members voted Tuesday against a new agreement, Deere is working with the UAW to determine the next steps.

Jen Hartmann, director, public relations and enterprise social media for Deere, told Local 4 News on Wednesday that Deere continues to stand by the terms of the contract presented to members Tuesday.

Deere believes the competitive wages and benefits in the agreement reflect “a lot of listening and understanding what the concerns are of those UAW members.”

There are no immediate plans to bring in a mediator, she said.

“Our Customer Service Continuation Plan was enacted the day the strike started,” Hartmann said. “Our priority was to make sure our parts distribution center, as well as our parts depots, remained up and running and fully operational.”

Deere made sure farmers, specifically, had the parts they needed to keep running, she said. “Now with a somewhat uncertain future the next few days, and potentially weeks, we’re going to have to start prioritizing based on the cyclical nature of our business where the needs are the greatest.”

Deere will “consider ways we can really meet those needs. And at this point our salaried workforce has really been stepping in,” she said. “They are really providing the work to help us meet those most immediate needs right now.”

“What we’ll be doing is taking a look at the industry needs, whether that’s planters here at seeding or combines, or needs that might be in our construction business,” Hartmann said.

“I think for us seeing that seven of 11 units voted yes to this tentative agreement is encouraging,” she said. “Seeing 45 percent of the employee base were voting yes, I think the goals now are to understand from the UAW and our employees what portion of the deal perhaps didn’t meet their expectations, and consider ways we can address those concerns, provide additional clarity and ensure that employees fully understand the depth of the contract and all that it offers.”

According to a post on Facebook from UAW Local 281 out of Davenport, the vote was yes, 64%; no, 36%.

National results were yes, 45%; no, 55%.

“We were already providing industry leading wages, and benefits including health care with no deductible, no premium, no co-insurance,” she said. “You know it made some improvements in retirement. And we stand behind it.”

“We feel good about the offer and we’re hopeful there will be some next steps here soon to get everyone back to work,” Hartmann said.

The strike, she said, is difficult for the whole community. “We have a lot of suppliers, partners, community partners … our employee base and businesses and even dealerships that rely on Deere heavily,” she said.

“I think we are stronger together and clearly it will benefit all of us when we’re able to reach an agreement.”

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