John Deere

Union members are expected to vote on a third contract proposal from Deere & Co.

MOLINE, Ill. — A tentative agreement between Deere & Co. and the United Auto Workers union could end a month-long strike that has impacted more than 10,000 workers at 14 of the company's manufacturing facilities. 

It is the third contract offer reached between the company and union leaders after two earlier proposals were rejected. Workers were expected to vote on the deal Wednesday.

Meanwhile, John Deere dealerships across the country are feeling the pinch as the strike has affected customer orders for parts and machinery. 

Kim Rominger, president and CEO of the Equipment Dealers Association based in Clayton, Mo., said members are reporting delays of 2-3 weeks on average for new equipment. 

"Production has been held up now for about two weeks," Rominger said. "You have to extend everything out that far, at least."

High demand for equipment across the board was already causing supply chain problems before the UAW strike began on Oct. 14, Rominger said.

Production delays at John Deere facilities have only added another hurdle for dealerships and customers. 

For example, Rominger said a farmer might trade in used equipment for a newer John Deere model. Oftentimes the dealer will have already contracted to sell the used machinery since demand is so high — anticipating the new equipment will be delivered by a certain date.

But with production delayed, that means the farmer is forced to go weeks without much-needed equipment for planting or harvest.

"It's always harvest somewhere, depending on your region," Rominger said. 

Rominger said he hoped the strike would end soon, though he anticipates the greater supply chain problems for equipment could last into 2023. During the pandemic, farmers were working less but still getting paid thanks to government relief programs. That has allowed them to continue making investments in equipment. 

For the most part, he said dealerships are handling the challenge well.

"They are on the front line between the customer and the company," Rominger said. "They are under a lot of pressure to make things happen that are totally out of their control."

According to UAW, the most recent contract offer from Deere & Co. includes "modest modifications" from the company's last offer made on Nov. 2.

That deal included an immediate 10% wage increase and 30% wage increases over the term of the contract, along with other benefits and a ratification bonus of $8,500. It was narrowly voted down, 55% to 45%.

"We are proud of the offer John Deere has provided the UAW, which would boost benefits and invest 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," a Deere spokesman said in a statement. 

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