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UAW Strike At Mack Trucks Could Impact Volvo Trucks Production


A United Auto Workers strike against Mack Trucks could soon impact assembly at the Volvo Trucks assembly plant in Virginia because both get engines and transmissions from the same Maryland facility.

About 3,200 UAW-represented workers went on strike Sunday morning at plants in Lower Macungie Township, Pennsylvania; Hagerstown, Maryland; and Jacksonville, Florida. It is the first UAW strike against Mack in 35 years.

The engine and transmission plant in Hagerstown builds engines and transmissions for both Mack and Volvo Trucks North America. The Jacksonville facility is parts distribution center that supplies both brands.

The Volvo New River Valley plant in Dublin, Virginia employs 3,500 and builds Class 8 VNL and VNR over-the-road models. It receives Volvo D11 and D13 engines and Volvo I-Shift automated manual transmissions from the 1.5-million-square-foot facility. 

"If the strike continues, it would in the near future affect Volvo truck production because Hagerstown supplies engines and transmissions to Volvo's NRV plant," Mack spokesman Chris Heffner told FreightWaves.

Both Mack and Volvo, which are part of Volvo Group, make all their trucks for the U.S. and Canadian markets in the U.S. Together, they account for about 17% of the North American heavy-duty truck market. Several competitors, including Navistar International Corp. and Daimler Trucks North America, assemble Class 8 trucks in Mexico for import to the U.S.

The union instructed Local 677 workers at the Mack plant in Pennsylvania to walk off their jobs at midnight Saturday and set up picket lines on Sunday morning, Oct. 13. About 1,500 picketers turned out at the Mack assembly plant in Lehigh Valley, according to the Allentown Morning Call newspaper.

The Mack contract with the UAW expired Oct. 1 but was extended until Saturday night. The union said it was prepared to resume talks on Oct. 21, suggesting the strike could last a minimum of eight days. 

"We remain committed to the collective bargaining process and are eager to resume negotiations," Heffer said.

Orders for new Class 8 trucks are lower for 11 consecutive months after setting a record for the full year in 2018. The backlog of trucks waiting to be built was expected to be about 135,000 at the end of September compared with 288,000 in October 2018.

Both Mack and Volvo planned down weeks around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. It is unclear whether lost production from the strike would pull those dates forward.

The UAW is also engaged in a national strike against General Motors Co. that is in its fourth week.

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