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Deere union contract expires at midnight, negotiations ongoing

The current contract between the United Auto Workers Local 865 union and Deere & Co. ends Thursday at midnight.

According to Brian Rothenberg, senior communications advisor, negotiations on a new agreement are still ongoing as of 4 p.m.

Negotiations could go on until midnight, Rothenberg said, and the outcome of the negotiations will be shared with the public later Thursday or early Friday morning. After the contract expires, the union has three possible options: reach a tentative agreement, extend the contract while further negotiations are underway, or continue with a strike.

A preliminary agreement would mean that the union negotiated terms of employment that they believe will satisfy members. Union members vote on the terms of the agreement after receiving a copy. Getting a copy of the agreement to 10,100 production and maintenance workers at 12 Deere locations could take time, according to Rothenberg, who determines when the vote can take place.

It is possible that the contract will be rolled out around October 10. If a tentative agreement is reached on Thursday, most of the details will not be shared with the public until after all members have seen it and it has been ratified by vote. The agreement must have a 51% majority to be ratified.

Rothenberg said the voting process is why workers like to join a union because “you have a say in your work.”

If the union wants more time to negotiate the deal, they can extend the current contract for a temporary period so that employees can continue to work. The union also has an option to strike after the contract expires. Union members have already passed a strike authorization meaning they are willing to strike if asked.

Rothenberg said all three options are still possible.

The facilities affected by the contract are located in Iowa: Davenport Works, Des Moines Works, Dubuque Works, Ottumwa Works, and Waterloo Works, including Tractor and Cab Assembly, Engine Works, and the Foundry. In Illinois, Harvester Works in East Moline, the North American parts distribution center in Milan, and the Seeding Group and Cylinder Division in Moline are covered by the agreement.