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Update: UAW resumes Volvo Trucks strike after second tentative deal fails

Dispute over a new labor agreement has dragged on since early February

UAW members rejected a second tentative contract at Volvo Trucks North America on Sunday. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Editor’s Note: UPDATES with UAW planning to resume strike on Monday

United Auto Workers members at Volvo Trucks North America (VTNA) planned to resume a strike on Monday after rejecting a second tentative agreement with the truck manufacturer by greater percentages than the first proposed contract they turned down in May.

The UAW International informed VTNA that members would leave their work stations at noon ET Monday “in an orderly manner after performing any tasks necessary to prevent damage to the company’s equipment or product.”

The measured tone of the letter signed by Ray Curry, secretary-treasurer of the union and director of its Heavy Truck Department, contrasted with rank-and-file anger over the protracted talks that began in February and led to a 13-day strike that union leaders called off April 30.

On Sunday, Local 2069 members voted 91% against salary language and 90% against hourly and common language in the proposed six-year agreement, according to a tally sheet posted on the local’s Facebook page.

Rank-and-file members said they did not get to see specifics of the first tentative agreement before halting their job action.

Based on comments on social media, Local 2069 members appear to be as angry with their union negotiators as they are with the contract offers.

“It is difficult to understand this action,” VTNA New River Valley Vice President and General Manager Franky Marchand said in a statement. “UAW International, Regional, and Local leadership endorsed the tentative agreement, which provided significant economic improvements for all UAW-represented workers, and a package of benefits that is very competitive for our industry and region. 

“We are committed to the collective bargaining process, and remain confident that we will ultimately be able to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.”

Curry expressed a similar sentiment in his letter, saying the union would be available to resume talks on Wednesday.

“The union remains committed to exploring all options for reaching an agreement,” he wrote. “We are confident that further discussion… will result in progress toward the goal of a contract that works for both the company and its employees.”

Drawn out negotiations

Negotiations began on Feb. 8. A 30-day extension from the end of the current agreement March 16 expired on April 17 when the 2,900 union members walked out. They have been working since April 30 under terms of the expired five-year agreement reached in 2016.

The New River Valley plant employs more than 3,300 people. A $400 million investment for advanced technology upgrades, site expansion and preparation for future products, including the Volvo VNR Electric truck is underway.

The plant has added 1,100 jobs since the last union agreement was implemented in 2016. It expects to add about 600 positions this year.

Separately, stockholders in Sweden’s AB Volvo, the parent of VTNA, will vote June 29 on a company proposal to pay a special dividend of $1.14 a share, proceeds from the $2.28 billion sale of its UD Trucks subsidiary in Japan to Isuzu Motors Ltd.

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Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

Alan Adler

Alan Adler is an award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press and the Detroit Free Press. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.