Deere & Co. is offering a voluntary separation program to salaried workers across the U.S., including those employed at John Deere Dubuque Works.
The new buyout program was rolled out this week and underscores continued efforts to adjust the labor force at Deere, which recently reported substantial sales declines and publicly voiced concerns about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dan Bernick, a public relations manager with Deere & Co., framed the recent measures as part of a broader, ongoing process. He did not directly address whether further job cuts are under consideration.
“Each John Deere factory continuously balances the size of its workforce with the needs of the individual factory and (aims) to optimize the workforce at each facility,” Bernick wrote in an email.
The package is not available to some employees working in precision technologies and other technology and information technology programs.
The buyout program is the latest in a series of cost-cutting efforts at Deere.
The company rolled out a similar initiative to salaried workers in late 2019. And within the past two months, more than 260 production workers at Dubuque Works have been placed on an indefinite layoff.
The company now employs 1,204 active production employees and 1,085 salaried employees in Dubuque, Bernick said. He noted that there are an additional 200 to 300 contract workers at the plant who are not employed by Deere & Co.
Recent cost-cutting initiatives come on the heels of well-documented struggles.
Deere & Co. reported a 41% drop in total net income in its second quarter and significantly reduced its earnings expectations for the year as a whole.
The construction and forestry division, which includes the Dubuque plant, hasn’t been spared from recent struggles.
Operating profit in the division tumbled 72% and net sales slid 25% in the second quarter of 2020, compared to the same quarter in 2019. The company revised full-year expectations downward and now anticipates a 30% to 40% decline in division sales.
In the company’s most recent earnings report, Deere Chairman and CEO John May acknowledged the importance of staying safe and serving customers during the pandemic.
Work at the Dubuque plant has already come to a halt on two occasions this year. In late March, officials shut down the plant after an employee there tested positive for COVID-19. A two-week shutdown was also implemented in May due to “weakened demand and inventory adjustments.”
“No additional shutdowns are planned at this time other than the normal annual two-week maintenance shutdown in late July,” Bernick wrote.