Steel Markets

UAW Issues Midnight Strike Deadline to Deere & Co.

Written by Michael Cowden

Heavy equipment maker Deere & Co. faces a midnight strike deadline after United Auto Workers (UAW) union members overwhelmingly rejected a tentative contract agreement.

argumentThe deadline has been set for Wednesday, Oct. 13, at 11:59 pm after approximately 90% of UAW members rejected the tentative pact, the union said.

Both sides continue to bargain in the meantime, a UAW spokesman told Steel Market Update on Tuesday.

A previous six-year contract expired on Oct. 1 but had been extended pending ongoing negotiations. It covers more than 10,000 workers at about a dozen Deere facilities, the union spokesman said.

The local unions and the facilities in question are as follows:

• UAW Local 74 – Ottumwa, Iowa

• UAW Local 79 – East Moline, Ill

• UAW Local 94 – Dubuque, Iowa

• UAW Local 186 – Denver, Colo.

• UAW Local 281 – Davenport, Iowa

• UAW Local 434 – Moline, Ill

• UAW Local 450 – Des Moines, Iowa

• UAW Local 472 – Covington, Ga.

• UAW Local 838 – Waterloo, Iowa

• UAW Local 865 – East Moline, Ill

• UAW Local 2366 – Coffeyville, Kan.

Tentative agreements are reached between union and company negotiators, but they must be voted on and ratified by a majority of union members before they go into effect.

Rank-and-file members felt that the tentative agreement did not offer enough in terms of wage increases or retirement and healthcare benefits – especially in the context of a labor shortage and a sharply higher workload, according to a report in the Quad-City Times.

“The general attitude is get the parts out, and we don’t care what the cost is, whether it’s safety or anything else,” the newspaper quoted one union worker as saying. His name and that of others quoted in the article were not included because they feared retribution.

Equipment manufacturers such as Moline, Ill.-based Deere are big consumers of steel – not only of flat products such as sheet but also of value-added long products such as special bar quality (SBQ) steel.

Deere did not respond to a request for comment for this article as to whether a potential strike might impact its steel buy.

John Deere, one of the company’s brands, is famous for its iconic green tractors and combines.

By Michael Cowden,

Michael Cowden

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