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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

UAW workers at Mack Truck go on strike

By Neal E. Boudette New York TImes

Nearly 4,000 members of the United Auto Workers union went on strike against Mack Trucks on Monday after rejecting a tentative contract that union’s leaders had worked out with the company.

The union informed the truck-maker Sunday that members had opposed the contract by a 73% vote, and that a strike would begin at Mack’s factories in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Florida.

“The members have spoken, and as the highest authority in our union, they have the final word,” UAW President Shawn Fain wrote in a letter to Mack’s parent company, Volvo Trucks.

The two sides have been negotiating for three months over a range of issues including wage increases, cost-of-living allowances, job security, pensions, prescription drug coverage and overtime. The proposed contract included raises of 19% over five years and a bonus of $3,500 for ratifying the agreement.

Mack’s president, Stephen Roy, said in a statement that the company was “surprised and disappointed,” noting that the UAW negotiators had called the tentative agreement a “record contract for the heavy truck industry.”

Commercial truck sales have been recovering slowly from the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Volvo has forecast about a 10% increase in industrywide truck sales this year in North America. Mack has about a 6% share of the North American market.

The Mack strike comes as the UAW is conducting a strike at plants and distribution centers owned by three automakers, General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Stellantis, the maker of Chrysler, Jeep and Ram vehicles.

The auto strike began nearly a month ago at three plants and the UAW has expanded it in a bid to increase the pressure on the manufacturers. About 25,000 of the 150,000 UAW workers employed by the three automakers are on strike. The stoppage affects two plants owned by GM, two owned by Ford, and one owned by Stellantis, as well as the 38 spare-parts warehouses owned by GM and Stellantis.

The automakers have offered wage increases of more than 20% over four years. They have also agreed to shorten the time — to four years from eight — that it takes a new worker to rise up from the entry-level wage of about $17 an hour to the highest-level wage of $32 an hour.

The union is pushing for greater wage increases, noting that raises over the past 15 years have not kept pace with inflation. It is also demanding the companies provide pensions for more workers, pay the cost of retiree health care, and convert temporary employees into permanent staff.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.