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John Deere union workers ratify new deal to end strike

More than 10,000 John Deere workers went on strike in October. The United Auto Workers called the new contract a landmark deal.
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More than 10,000 striking John Deere workers will go back to work after approving a new agreement that union leadership called a landmark deal.

Workers at 14 Deere & Co. locations have been on strike since Oct. 14 after the union overwhelmingly rejected a contract offer that would’ve delivered 5 percent raises to some workers and 6 percent to others.

On Wednesday, members ratified a new six-year agreement that includes 10 percent increases in wages this year, and a total increase of 20 percent over the life of the contract, the United Auto Workers said.

"UAW John Deere members did not just unite themselves, they seemed to unite the nation in a struggle for fairness in the workplace,” union President Ray Curry said in a statement.

Deere CEO John C. May said the agreements give workers “the opportunity to earn wages and benefits that are the best in our industries and are groundbreaking in many ways.”

In addition to the wage increases, the newly ratified deal includes an $8,500 signing bonus, more retirement options and makes no changes to healthcare, the union said.

“It’s been good for us,” Tony Long, a worker in Ottumwa, Iowa, told NBC affiliate WHO of Des Moines. “I’m glad it worked out like this.”

The agreement was ratified by union members by 61 percent to 39 percent, the UAW said.

“Our members courageous willingness to strike in order to attain a better standard of living and a more secure retirement resulted in a groundbreaking contract and sets a new standard for workers not only within the UAW but throughout the country,” said UAW Vice President Chuck Browning in a statement.

Union members rejected a previous agreement on Nov. 2, staying on strike.

Deere reported record profits this year. It has said its net income is projected to be $5.7 to $5.9 billion.

There have been a number of strikes or threatened strikes across the country this year as workers demand better conditions.

Around 1,400 Kelloggs workers went on strike Oct. 5, and have not returned to work. Nabisco workers also went on strike for weeks before ratifying a new deal in September.

In the entertainment industry, around 60,000 International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees threatened to strike, with members citing long hours, no weekends off and no rest periods between shifts. Union membership voted this week to ratify a deal, ending the strike threat.