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Strike to continue after John Deere workers vote down agreement

UAW says 45% of John Deere members voted for the proposed contract while 55% voted against it Tuesday night.

ALTOONA, Iowa — The Union Auto Workers (UAW) strike at John Deere will continue after a majority of members voted Tuesday to reject the new agreement reached last Friday.

Union workers at the company filed into locations across Iowa and Illinois on Tuesday to vote on a new tentative agreement. UAW says 45% of John Deere members voted for the proposed contract while 55% voted against it.

Workers have been on strike for more than two weeks after members raised concerns over wages, pensions and health care benefits.

Under the new proposal, wages would have increased by 10% in the first year, then increase by 5% every other year with 3% lump sum payments every year in between.

Marc A. Howze, Group President, Lifecycle Solutions and Chief Administrative Officer for Deere, issued a  statement after the vote:

“Through the agreements reached with the UAW, John Deere would have invested an additional $3.5 billion in our employees, and by extension, our communities, to significantly enhance wages and benefits that were already the best and most comprehensive in our industries. This investment was the right one for Deere, our employees, and everyone we serve together. Even though it would have created greater competitive challenges within our industries, we had faith in our employees’ ability to sharpen our competitive edge. With the rejection of the agreement covering our Midwest facilities, we will execute the next phase of our Customer Service Continuation Plan.”

UAW members working at the John Deere facility in Ankeny filed into the Palace Theater at Adventureland Park in Altoona. Voting was open Tuesday from 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Some workers told Local 5 they were confident in their bargaining position with Deere.

"Deere is not in any position to play too many games," said Chris Laursen, a member of UAW's Local 74 chapter. "I mean, they have some loyal customers out there, many of them that stand by us, support our strike. Give us something fair, and let's get back to work and take care of these farmers."

UAW President Ray Curry also voiced support for the agreement in a statement, saying:

“Our UAW John Deere national bargaining team went back to our local members after the previous tentative agreement and canvassed the concerns and priorities of membership. We want to thank the UAW bargaining team and striking UAW members and their families for the sacrifices they have made to achieve these gains. Our members have enjoyed the support of our communities and the entire labor movement nationwide as they have stood together in support and solidarity these past few weeks.”

Strikers resumed their positions on picket lines outside Deere facilities Tuesday night.

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