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Deere taps software workers to assemble tractors amid strike

Scott Olson/Getty Images deere-strike-workers-GettyImages-1346752212.jpg
Striking workers picket outside of the John Deere Davenport Works facility on October 15, 2021 in Davenport, Iowa.
Software engineers and developers keep some Deere manufacturing plants running while the union strike continues.

By Joe Deaux

Deere & Co. is using the likes of software engineers and developers to keep some of its manufacturing plants running, and it’s set to utilize more if a union strike continues.

The world’s largest tractor maker on Nov. 12 gauged the interest of salaried information technology workers in volunteering at factories, according to an email seen by Bloomberg News. Shares of the Moline, Illinois-based company fell 2.9% to $351.45 at 10:34 a.m. in New York.

See more: Deere workers reject agreement, extend strike

Deere’s preparations for a potential continuation of the dispute come as 10,000 striking union workers are scheduled to vote Wednesday on a third tentative deal. The latest offer includes an increase in wages and a signing bonus of $8,500. The workers rejected a second agreement Nov. 2, with one sticking point being a two-tier compensation system that’s less generous for workers hired after 1997.

The company declined to comment. The request for more software engineers and developers in factories comes more than a month after the beginning of the first Deere strike since 1986.

Some IT workers at the company have already been assembling sprayers and harvesting machines, normally a job done by skilled union laborers, as part of a continuity of work plan, the email said. Earlier this month details emerged that customers are facing weeks-long delays for parts and components, orders U.S. farmers usually receive in days and are needed to keep combines running. 

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.
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