After two failed tentative agreements, UAW workers at Volvo Trucks North America’s New River Valley plant have returned to the picket line. Members of the UAW Local 2069 rejected the common language in Volvo Truck’s latest tentative agreement by 90%, its hourly language by 90%, and its salary language by 91%. Union workers resumed their earlier strike at noon the day after on June 7.
“It is difficult to understand this action,” said NRV VP Franky Marchand. In a statement, Marchand noted that UAW international, regional, and local leadership had all endorsed the latest tentative agreement, which Marchand said provided UAW-represented workers “significant economic improvements” and a “very competitive” benefits package. The plant employs 3,300 people, of whom 2,900 are UAW members.
Ray Curry, UAW Secretary-Treasurer and Director of its heavy truck department, said May 20 of the latest agreement that it “made even more solid gains toward fair pay, benefits and job security protections,” but noted that members of the union “are the final authority.”
On June 6, Curry said that for union members, “many topics remain at issue,” including wage increases, job security, holiday and work schedules, health and safety, seniority, pensions, healthcare coverage and overtime.
Volvo Trucks, said Marchand, remains “committed to the collective bargaining process, and we are confident that we will ultimately arrive at a mutually beneficial agreement.” Volvo Trucks also noted the facility is currently undergoing a $400 million expansion and that it had made 1,100 new hires since the last union agreement in 2016.
Volvo Trucks and members of the UAW Local 2069 began negotiations for a new five-year contract in February, but, after failing to come to an agreement, the union voted to strike in April. Union members initially returned to work May 17 despite rejecting Volvo Truck’s first tentative agreement. The common language of that agreement was rejected by 91% of voting workers, and 83% voted against its salary language.