Volvo Trucks North America has signaled they are through with negotiating after UAW workers at their Dublin, Virginia plant rejected a third tentative agreement over the weekend.
In a statement released July 12, Volvo Trucks USA said it would resume production anyway at its New River Valley truck assembly plant in Dublin, Virginia under the terms of the new agreement, which was rejected by 60% of voting workers. The UAW represents 2,900 workers at the 3,300-employee plant.
While the United Auto Workers said both the strike and negotiations would continue after the failure of the third contract July 9, workers at the factory are currently set to vote a second time on the third contract July 14, which Volvo now says is its best and final offer.
NRV General Manager Franky Marchand defended the latest tentative agreement, saying it “delivered significant wage gains and first-class benefits for our employees” and noting that 40% of UAW voters supported it. That’s a notable gain compared to the first two tentative agreements, which were rejected by about 90% of voting workers in both cases.
“The ongoing strike—which we continue to believe is unnecessary—is hurting our customers, and has already set back our project to expand and upgrade the facility,” said Marchand. Volvo says it is in the midst of a $400 million upgrade to the plant which would include preparation for electric-truck assembly.
The UAW, meanwhile, has said its workers remain concerned about benefits like health care as well as wage progression and working conditions. In a video message posted to the Local 2069’s Facebook page, Local 2069 President Matt Blindingo asked union members not to return to work.
“Basically, they’re trying to break our union, telling people to cross the line tomorrow,” he said. Blindingo added that if Volvo gives workers a return-to-work date after the vote, then the union will be able to file a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board.
The current struggle between Volvo’s largest truck manufacturing site and its UAW-represented workers began when their existing contract ran up in March. Although negotiations on the new contract began in February, the union and company were unable to come to an agreement by March 16, and the union announced a strike which ultimate lasted from April 17 to April 30.
Volvo workers returned to work in order to vote on their first tentative agreement, but after that agreement and a second were rejected by about 90% of votes, the workers returned to their picket lines.