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UAW Plans To Strike Mack Trucks For First Time In 35 Years


The United Auto Workers plans to strike Mack Trucks operations in three states on Sunday, the first walkout at the heavy-duty truck maker in 35 years.

UAW Local 677 has 3,500 members at plants in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Florida. About 2,400 of the workers are in Lower Macungie Township in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley.

Workers stayed on the job under terms of a three-year agreement that expired October 1. The extension was set to expire at 11:59 p.m. Saturday. Workers voted Sept. 20 to authorize a strike if necessary.

"We are disappointed that the company failed to provide any substantial offer prior to the October 1 expiration date or during the period in which we extended the contact," Ray Curry, secretary-treasurer of the UAW and director of its Heavy Duty Truck Department, said in a letter to William Waters, director of Employee and Labor Relations for Volvo Trucks North America.

Mack and its sibling Volvo Trucks are part of the Volvo Group of Swedish manufacturer Volvo AB. 

Curry said the union would be available to resume negotiations on Monday, Oct 21, meaning the strike presumably would last for at least eight days.

Surprised and Disappointed

"We are surprised and disappointed that the UAW decided to strike, rather than

to allow our employees to keep building trucks and engines while the parties continued

to negotiate," Mack Trucks CEO Martin Weissburg said in a statement.

"The positive working relationship between local UAW leadership and management at our facilities was clearly in evidence throughout the negotiations, and progress was being made," Weissburg said.

Mack and Volvo Trucks are the only major heavy-duty truck makers that produce all their trucks for North America in the United States.

Mack "continues to compete against products built in lower-cost countries," Weissburg said, but it has no plans to move production. Mack has invested more than $400 million in its plants and logistics network over the last 10 years. SInce 2015, Mack has insourced work that has created more than 500 jobs in its U.S. factories, Weissburg said.. 

"We have significant new investments in both facilities and products on the way," he said.

Union Grievances

Curry's letter included a list of unresolved issues including wages, cost-of-living adjustments (COLA), job security, skilled trades, work schedules and health and safety.

The UAW last walked out at Mack Trucks in 1984. The strike lasted nine days, according to the Allentown Morning Call. The current agreement was reached after a one-day extension in 2016, the newspaper said.

The downtime during the strike comes as the backlog of Class 8 trucks waiting to be built is shrinking. Mack and Volvo each plan two weeks of downtime in the fourth quarter to adjust production to demand.

Mack, which makes only Class 8 trucks, is a major producer of construction, refuse and off-highway models in addition to the over-the-road Mack Anthem. It has a 7.4% market share, down two-tenths of a point from the same time a year ago.

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