A top John Deere executive said the world's largest maker of farm equipment will look to hire strikebreakers or import equipment from factories it operates overseas as a strike by 10,000 workers drags into a third week.
The workers on strike at 12 Midwest factories, who are members of the United Auto Workers union, are demanding higher wages. On Tuesday, the union rejected the company's 'best and final offer.'
The union's rejection of the agreement has lead the company to begin its 'customer service continuation plan,' Marc Howze, Deere & Co.'s chief administrative officer, told CNN Business.
'We want to live up to those commitments.'
Howze confirmed that the company is 'exploring' if it will use the 59 factories it operates outside the country. He also said the company is looking at hiring replacement hourly workers.
'All options are on the table as to what to do as we progress,' he stated.
More than 100,000 Deere & Co workers are in their third week of striking as they continue to demand higher wages as the company is set to a record net income of $5.7 to $5.9 billion
John Deere employees picket outside John Deere Davenport Works in Iowa. Over 10,000 John Deere employees began their strike at 11:59pm Wednesday
Deere & Co is the world's largest maker of farm equipment
Both these options may not be completely efficient due to the extensive supply chain shortage, partially caused by delays in shipping containers, and the current worker shortage in the country.
'The strike against John Deere and Company will continue as we discuss next steps with the company,' UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg said in a statement. 'Pickets will continue and any updates will be provided through the local union.'
If the strike at the world's largest maker of farm equipment continues it could affect the harvest and impact the food sector.
While the company explores its options and has management employees working nearly around the clock, the strike has not negatively impacted the company's stock value.
In fact, Deere & Co stock has continued to rise since the UAW strike began. On October 14, Deere & Co closed the day at 329.77 USD and sat at 354.88 USD on Friday.
The Deere & Co. workers began their strike on October 14, the first major walkout at the agricultural machinery giant in more than three decades.
The strike demanding higher wages comes as workers leverage their increased power in a tight labor market to demand a bigger piece of the profits at successful firms.
The UAW members have rejected two tentative agreements from the company since their strike began last month
Deere CEO John May earned nearly $16 million last year, 220 times more than the average worker at the company
Deere, due to report full-year results in late November, has forecast a record net income of $5.7 billion to $5.9 billion, and workers believe they can take advantage of the national labor shortage to demand that the company share the wealth.
Workers are angry that Deere CEO John May, who earned nearly $16 million in his first year in the role last year, makes 220 times more than the median company salary of $70,743.
United Auto Workers, the union representing Deere workers, had said its members would walk off the job if no deal has been reached October 20.
The vast majority of the union rejected a contract offer earlier in the week that would have delivered 5 percent raises to some workers and 6 percent raises to others at the Illinois company known for its distinctive green tractors.
'The almost one million UAW retirees and active members stand in solidarity with the striking UAW members at John Deere,' UAW President Ray Curry said.
Brad Morris, vice president of labor relations for Deere, said the company is 'committed to a favorable outcome for our employees, our communities and everyone involved.' He said Deere wants an agreement that would improve the economic position of all employees.
'We will keep working day and night to understand our employees´ priorities and resolve this strike, while also keeping our operations running for the benefit of all those we serve,' Morris said.
Deere, which has about