Deere, UAW Agree On Tentative Contract

MOLINE, Ill. (AP) -- Deere & Co. and the United Auto Workers said Thursday they've reached a tentative six-year labor contract covering nearly 10,000 workers and 17,000 retirees.

The company and union said they will not disclose details of the agreement, which now heads to members of 15 UAW locals for ratification.

Representatives of the company and the union issued statements praising the agreement and the negotiators who hammered it out.

David Everitt, president of Deere's worldwide agriculture and turf division, said the two sides worked hard to negotiate an agreement "that meets the needs of employees while recognizing the nature of Deere's competitive challenges around the world."

UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles said the tentative agreement "serves our members' best interests and the interests of the communities where we work and live."

Deere and the union began negotiations in late August. The previous contract, which went into effect Oct. 1, 2003, and expired at midnight Wednesday, covered about 17 percent of the 56,653 people employed by Deere at the end of 2008.

The world's largest maker of farm equipment has been battered by the slumping global economy that depressed sales of its tractors, bulldozers and other products.

Deere, which also makes construction equipment, has faced dwindling demand for its products as farmers and other customers rein in spending due to tough economic conditions and weaker crop prices. Tight credit markets in some developing countries have made it difficult for potential customers to finance purchases of the company's products.

The UAW-Deere agreement represents workers at sites in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas and parts depots in Atlanta and Denver.

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