Workers at Deere & Co. ratified a new six-year contract on Wednesday, five weeks after more than 10,000 workers walked off the job for the first time since 1986. The union, the United Auto Workers, rejected two previous offers. “UAW John Deere members did not just unite themselves, they seemed to unite the nation in a struggle for fairness in the workplace,” UAW said in a statement announcing the contract’s ratification. The organization said 61 percent of its members had voted “yes” on the contract, with 39 percent saying “no.” The new offer will grant workers general raises, signing bonuses, and improvements in pension funding higher than those in the previous offer, rejected on Nov. 2.
Negotiators for the company had described the third contract as its final and best offer. UAW said the latest contract made “modest modifications” on the second one. “John Deere’s success depends on the success of our people. Through our new collective bargaining agreements, we’re giving employees the opportunity to earn wages and benefits that are the best in our industries and are groundbreaking in many ways,” Deere Chief Chairman and CEO John May said in a statement. Some Deere workers will return to 14 of the company’s plants as soon as the overnight shift early Thursday.