Navistar's Lisle, Illinois, headquarters.  HDT file photo

Navistar's Lisle, Illinois, headquarters. HDT file photo

Navistar and the United Automobile Workers union ratified a new four-year labor agreement after the contract was approved by a majority of UAW members. The previous contract expired on Oct. 1, 2014.

“The new contract will help our UAW-represented facilities embrace lean principles, which will allow them to remain competitive in today’s business environment,” said Troy Clarke, president and CEO of Navistar. “The contract also helps our UAW-represented employees and retirees maintain a good standard of living.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that Navistar and the union were able to reach a deal without the acrimony and output disruptions seen in previous contract talks. "Navistar typically idled unionized plants, laid off workers and shifted production to nonunion plants when the company and the union were unable to agree on a new contract before an old contract expired," the Journal noted. This time, the company allowed UAW members to stay on the job under the terms of the old contract while negotiations continued.

Navistar had been negotiating with UAW to adopt leaner and more flexible work rules to stay competitive with other OEMs. Company officials argued that workers needed stronger attendance policies, better control over stability within teams and more cross training.

They also wanted to adjust pension programs to keep them viable and provide competitive compensation and healthcare to employees while allowing the company to be competitive.

The deal covers a total of 1,500 workers at a truck assembly plant in Springfield, Ohio; an engine plant in Melrose Park, Ill.; and parts distribution centers in Atlanta, Dallas and York, Pa.

“With this new contract, our members may continue serving our customers in the heavy truck industry while maintaining good jobs and benefits,” said Norwood Jewell, UAW representative in charge of the Heavy Truck Department. “This is an example of how working men and women and companies can work together so that everyone wins.”