Unionized Mack Trucks workers on Nov. 15 overwhelmingly ratified a new five-year collective bargaining agreement after more than five weeks on strike.
According to the United Auto Workers, after 39 days on strike, UAW members at Mack Trucks voted by 93% to ratify their new contract "with significant local improvements."
The master agreement is the same tentative agreement that workers rejected in early October, triggering the strike action. The agreement covers about 3,900 employees at Mack production facilities in Macungie (Lehigh Valley), Pennsylvania; Middletown, Pennsylvania; Hagerstown, Maryland; Baltimore, Maryland, and Jacksonville, Florida.
“The new agreement guarantees significant wage growth and delivers excellent benefits for our employees and their families,” said Mack President Stephen Roy in a news release announcing the ratification. “At the same time, it will safeguard our competitiveness and allow us to continue making the necessary investments in our people, plants and products.”
‘Last Best and Final Offer’
The UAW has been on strike at Mack facilities since Oct. 9 after 73% of members voted against ratification of a new five-year collective bargaining agreement that had been reached between Mack and the union’s negotiating team.
The two sides made little to no progress on the master agreement since the tentative contract was rejected.
On Nov. 7, UAW reported that its bargaining committee met with Mack to continue negotiations, but it said those negotiations had gone nowhere and that Mack told union negotiators that the Oct. 1 master agreement offer made by the company was their “last best and final offer.”
According to published reports, Local Union 677 leaders sent a letter to UAW members that negotiations were over and the company would start hiring replacement workers to restart production at the Macungie facility if the deal were not ratified.
During the strike, Mack has been using about 500 non-union workers at its Hagerstown plant helping the company maintain support for the New River Valley plant. This group consists of non-union employees from Hagerstown and volunteers from other Volvo Group sites, as well as personnel from dealers, suppliers and a staffing service, the company explained on its UAW update website.
“Hagerstown supplies powertrains to other Volvo Group sites. We’re committed to protecting our business, and to minimizing the impact of the strike on our Volvo Trucks customers and fellow Volvo Group colleagues, as much as we can,” Mack said.
Why Was the Deal Initially Rejected?
“After almost two decades of concessionary contracts, the members are ready to make up lost ground,” said the UAW in a Mack negotiations update on Oct. 20.
In an Oct. 26 update, UAW said the two most important issues from the members were an increase in general wages and reinstating cost of living increases (aka COLA) back into the master agreement, which had been frozen in 2012.
According to Mack, the tentative agreement employees were voting on “includes the strong wage and benefit package the company offered at the master contract level and tentatively agreed to by the parties on Oct. 1, as well as a number of revised terms negotiated with the UAW on local agreements impacting LVO, Hagerstown, Baltimore and Jacksonville.”
Mack has said the tentative agreement that previously was agreed to by UAW negotiators would deliver a 10% general wage increase in year one for all employees, and a compounded 20% general wage increase over five years. It would also eliminate one wage progression step, giving all employees a faster path to full pay, and health insurance premiums would not increase through the term of the contract.