WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL)- John Deere announced plans on Friday to continue to provide health care benefits to its United Auto Workers union workers throughout the ongoing strike.
Union workers walked off the job and onto the picket lines on October 14 after union leaders and the company could not agree on the terms of a new six-year contract. At stake are wages, better benefits, and retirement.
The company also said eligible workers would continue to receive payments from its CIPP incentive program, its Continuous Improvement Pay Plan. Deere said CIPP, which is a 13-week periodic payment program, will continue throughout the strike. Workers will get the incentives they earned before the strike began as scheduled.
A John Deere company source familiar with the negotiations said the company is only required to provide health care to the striking workers for the first ten work days of the strike, meaning it would have stopped on October 27.
"John Deere's healthcare and CIPP incentives are critical aspects of John Deere's industry-leading wages and benefits," John Deere Director of Public Relations Jennifer Hartman said in a statement. "We are taking these steps to demonstrate our commitment to doing what's right by our employees and focusing on all that we can achieve together."
Generally, John Deere production employees can earn CIPP incentives, but maintenance workers cannot.
A John Deere spokesperson said more than 60% of the companies UAW workers are on CIPP.
More than 10,000 John Deere workers at 14 factories in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Colorado and Georgia are currently on strike.
"The bargaining committee continues to address the concerns of its membership with the company," UAW Leaders said in a news release on Wednesday. "We would like to thank our communities and members for their continued support."
Rank and file UAW members continue to spend four-hour shifts on the picket line in front of John Deere facilities.
Thursday, the 8th day of the strike, UAW workers became eligible for weekly benefits. Workers on the picket lines earn $55 a day Monday-Friday.
As long as UAW members are up to date on their union dues, on active payroll before the strike began and show up for their assigned picket duty, they are eligible for $275 per week in strike pay.
Members can pick up another job during the strike, but if they make more than $275 they can no longer receive weekly union benefits.
The John Deere source said the company was surprised workers rejected the first offer as overwhelmingly as they did but said the company hope to find common ground and reach an agreement that benefits everyone.