The vote was much closer this time, with 45% voting in favor of the proposed six-year deal and 55% opposed. An earlier tentative agreement reached on October 1 was rejected by 90% of membership in a ratification vote concluded on October 10.
Many of those voting against the two rejected deals apparently felt that despite pay increases and improved benefits being offered, that the company could afford even more at a time of record profits. The strike against Deere at 14 facilities, mostly in the Midwest, began on October 14.
“The strike against John Deere and company will continue as we discuss next steps with the company,” the UAW statement said.
A separate agreement with the same economic terms that covered 100 UAW members at two John Deere parts facilities in Atlanta and Denver was approved by membership, so the strike will only continue at the 12 other Deere locations, including all of its US factories.
The company said the newly rejected deal included an immediate 10% wage increase and 30% wage increases over the term of contract, an $8,500 signing bonus and health care coverage with no out-of-pocket costs for members for premiums, deductibles and coinsurance, improved retirement benefits and new paid parental leave.
But that wasn’t enough for a majority of membership, especially since the union had accepted concessions after less lucrative deals in the past.
“These are skilled, tedious jobs that UAW members take pride in every day,” said Mitchell Smith, a regional director for the UAW, on the day the strike started. “Strikes are never easy on workers or their families but John Deere workers believe they deserve a better share of the pie, a safer workplace and adequate benefits.”
Cornell University, however, tracks strikes of all sizes, and its stats show 181 strikes through mid-October, with 38 strikes just in the first two weeks of October, more than any other full month so far this year. Those most recent strikes, 22 of which started in October, involve 24,000 workers in total, prompting the AFL-CIO to dub the month “Striketober.”