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UAW Factory Workers Ratify Deal, Will End Volvo Truck Strike

Published Thursday, July 15, 2021
by The Associated Press Via
UAW Factory Workers Ratify Deal, Will End Volvo Truck Strike

(DUBLIN, VIRGINIA) - Striking Blue-Collar Workers at a Volvo Heavy Truck Plant in Southwestern Virginia have narrowly ratified what the company said was its final offer in a long-running labor dispute.

The Hourly Workers voted 1,147 to 1,130 for the six-year contract and will suspend their on-and-off Strike that began in April.

However, Unionized Salaried Workers voted against the pact - 45-to-40, according to the Facebook page of the United Auto Workers (UAW) Local.

Union spokesman Brian Rothenberg in Detroit confirmed that the totals are accurate.

The UAW said in a statement that Blue Collar Members will return to work for their Sunday and Monday shifts.

About 2,900 Workers represented by the UAW have been on strike at the Dublin, Virginia plant.

They rejected three tentative contract agreements reached with Local Union Negotiators, including the same contract that was ratified on Wednesday (July 14th).

UAW President Ray Curry said the Union has an established process to address concerns raised over the salary agreement that narrowly failed: "The democratic process played out at Volvo Trucks.  UAW Members stood together through their Strike and now the overall agreement and hourly agreement have been ratified despite the company's actions earlier in the week."

Earlier in the week, Volvo Trucks said it would put the third tentative agreement into effect and asked Workers to cross picket lines so it could restart production.

In turn, the UAW threatened to file an Unfair Labor Practices (ULP) Complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The UAW said only a few Workers crossed the lines and the company said it would take several days to resume production.

A copy of the third agreement shows Workers with one year of experience would start at $20.60 per hour, progressing to a top wage of $30.92 when the contract ends in 2026.

The UAW said in its statement that the six-year agreement eliminates a second, lower tier of wages and provides protections around shift scheduling - as well as a "major signing bonus and aggressive annual wage improvements."

The defiant Strikers could be a sign that Workers feel more emboldened because employers are having a hard time finding skilled Workers.  Experts say there is little fear of finding another job with companies scrambling to hire Workers, so the gamble of a Strike is not as severe.

Kristin Dziczek, Senior Vice President at the Center for Automotive Research, an Industry Think Tank, said Rank-and-File Union Members flexed their muscles in the labor dispute by rejecting two agreements endorsed by Union Leadership.

“It shows Members in future contract talks that the first or even second deals agreed to by Union Leaders can be improved,” she said. "This changes the dynamic quite a bit.  If Members don't see the first deal as the best they can get, then it's a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Negotiators will counter by leaving some room to go back and sweeten the deal."

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