OTTUMWA — Striking workers at Deere & Company will vote on a third offer from the company Wednesday, against threats that the offer is the "last, best and final offer."

The company has offered to make some adjustments to its performance bonus program known as CIPP. Otherwise, the second offer that would provide a 10% raise to all union employees and a ratification bonus of $8,500 remains the same.

Union leaders tell employees the offer is a modest modification to the last agreement, which saw 55% of employees vote to reject.

Picketing will pause Wednesday morning to allow union members an opportunity to vote.

The proposed agreement is estimated by the United Auto Workers union to increase worker wages by about 30% over six years. This is because, in addition to the immediate 10% raise, workers would see wages adjusted based on quarterly inflation numbers and additional 5% raises in the third and fifth years of the agreement.

Additionally, the offer makes improvements to the retirement plan, including keeping a pension program alive. It also adds paid paternal leave, autism care and other benefits.

The worker strike passed the one-month mark on Sunday. Workers began picketing on Oct. 14.

A Deere spokesperson declined to comment on Friday. After the second offer was rejected, Deere announced it would begin using plants around the world to pick up the slack caused by the strike.

The company's chief administrative officer Marc Howze told the Associated Press earlier this month the second offer was as good as it would get for workers.

“We want to make sure they understand the value of the agreement, to make sure they understand that there is nothing to be gained by continuing to hold out,” Howze said. “To some degree, because we were able to come to a resolution as quickly as we were, I think there’s some folks who believe there must be some more available.”

The strike has affected 12 plants and 10,100 workers across Iowa, Illinois and Kansas. In Ottumwa, the UAW represents about 600 Deere employees. Employees have continued to receive health benefits from the company while the strike continues.

The first proposed agreement, which set off the strike, failed with 90% of workers voting to reject the offer.

Deere expected record profits this year, between $5.7 billion and $5.9 billion. Through the first nine months of the fiscal year, the company had already posted $4.7 billion in income, doubling its profits from the same period a year earlier.

The company's CEO John May saw a 160% pay increase from 2019 to 2020, thanks in large part to the company hitting financial targets.

Kyle Ocker is the editor of the Ottumwa Courier and the Oskaloosa Herald. He can be reached at kocker@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.

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Kyle Ocker is a Centerville native and award-winning multimedia journalist. Kyle is currently the president of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and vice president of the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association.

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