About 2,900 United Auto Workers (UAW) representing employees at Volvo Trucks North America (VTNA) struck the truck manufacturer’s only North American plant in Dublin, Virginia, on Saturday for the first time since an eight-week walkout in 2008.
No talks to end the walkout are expected until at least April 26, Volvo Group spokesman John Mies told FreightWaves.
The strike comes as Volvo and other truck makers are suffering from a shortage of microchips that is impacting production. Volvo and Mack Trucks both indicated they expected to take downtime this quarter.
“We are surprised and disappointed that the UAW decided to strike,” NRV Vice President and General Manager Franky Marchand said in a statement. “Progress was being made, and we had offered substantial increases in our employees’ compensation.”
Strike impact limited to Volvo plant
The UAW struck for 12 days at VTNA’s Mack Trucks in 2019. That strike ultimately led to layoffs at Volvo because the UAW represented several facilities, including an engine plant in Maryland. Depots that provided parts to the plant and the aftermarket also were involved in the strike.
The VTNA agreement covers only the New River Valley operation. VTNA and Mack Trucks are part of the Sweden-based Volvo Group.
The five-year agreement between the UAW and Volvo expired March 15. It was extended 30 days to allow talks to continue. Workers had voted 96.8% in favor of authorizing a strike.
“We don’t understand why the UAW won’t allow our employees to continue building trucks while we continue negotiations,” Marchand said.
Virginia plant covers all of North America
The Volvo Group is the only heavy-duty truck manufacturing group that assembles all of its trucks and engines for the North American market in the United States. The NRV plant employs more than 3,300 people. The plant is undergoing $400 million of investment for advanced technology upgrades.
The site is being expanded to allow for future products, including the Volvo VNR Electric truck. NRV has added 1,100 jobs during the current union agreement. It expects a net increase of approximately 600 positions in 2021.
“The union remains committed to exploring all options for reaching an agreement,” UAW Secretary-Treasurer and director of the union’s Heavy Duty Truck Department said in a letter, which appeared to be incorrectly addressed to the head of human resources at Mack Trucks in Macungie, Pennsylvania.
Said Marchand: “We are committed to the collective bargaining process, and look forward to getting back to the table. We are confident that we will be able to arrive at an agreement that provides a competitive wage and benefit package for our employees and families, and helps to ensure the plant’s competitiveness, long-term growth and sustainability.”