The second strike in two months comes as Volvo is starting production of its VNR Electric.  -  Photo: Volvo Trucks North America

The second strike in two months comes as Volvo is starting production of its VNR Electric.

Photo: Volvo Trucks North America

United Auto Workers members are again on strike at Volvo Trucks North America’s New River Valley truck-assembly plant in Dublin, Virginia, after workers for the second time rejected a tentative deal.

VTNA employees represented by the United Auto Workers on June 6 rejected a new six-year labor agreement. A strike was scheduled to begin at noon on June 7. The NRV plant employs more than 3,300 people, about 2,900 of whom are UAW members.

It’s the second strike this year as the two sides struggle to come to terms.

The previous five-year contract expired in mid-March, and production stopped April 17 after a 30-day extension expired without an agreement. It was the first such strike for Volvo since 2008.

A tentative agreement was reached April 30 and production resumed May 3, but that agreement was soundly rejected by the rank and file on May 16.

The two sides quickly came to a second tentative agreement on May 20, this time a six-year agreement. It had changes such as an increased retiree lump sum, reducing the eight-year wage progression to a six-year program, a new attendance policy allowing workers to leave early with permission, lower insurance premiums and a reduction in the out-of-pocket maximum on health insurance, requirement that employees must be notified if they will have to work daily overtime no later than the midpoint of the shift, and other changes.

However, members overwhelmingly rejected the new tentative agreement, with 90% voting no, and even more voting against the salary language than did against the terms of the first agreement. On social media, many workers complained it was not substantively better than the first version.

In its Monday, June 7, letter to VTNA advising workers would go on strike at noon, Ray Curry of the UAW Heavy Truck Department, said “many topics remain at issue, including wage increases, job security, wage progression, skilled trades, shift premium, holiday schedules, work schedules, health and safety, seniority, pension, 401(k), healthcare and prescription drug coverage, and overtime.”

The letter said the union is available to reconvene negotiations starting Wednesday, June 9.

“It is difficult to understand this action,” said NRV Vice President and General Manager Franky Marchand 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 remain committed to the collective bargaining process, and we are confident that we will ultimately arrive at a mutually beneficial agreement.”

The strike comes at a time when heavy-duty truck makers are already struggling to keep pace with high demand and deal with a global shortage of microchips. It also comes as Volvo ramps up production on its new heavy-duty electric truck.

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