After a 13-day strike called off by UAW officials, union workers at Volvo Trucks North America (VTNA) overwhelmingly rejected a tentative agreement Sunday. But they will stay on the job, company officials said.
According to UAW Local 2069’s Facebook page, a majority of the 2,900 represented workers at Volvo’s New River Valley truck assembly operations in Dublin, Virginia voted 91% against common and hourly language and 83% against salary language in the tentative agreement.
The strongly negative vote may be a repudiation of UAW officials by the rank and file, which had complained about being told to return to work after calling off a 13-day strike on April 30. Local members complained about ending the walkout without seeing details of the five-year agreement their negotiators reached with the Sweden-based truck maker.
The strike, the first at VTNA since 2008, began April 17 after a one-month extension following the March 16 expiration of the five-year agreement reached in 2016. Terms of that agreement remain in effect, Volvo spokesman John Mies told Freightwaves.
Workers take to social media
UAW-represented workers voted throughout the day Sunday at the union hall. Vitriol spilled out on social media after the vote results were announced.
“SOLIDARITY!!!! 91% of our union Brothers and Sisters have spoken. stay strong..we will need each other as this goes forward,” read one of more than 30 Local 2069 Facebook page comments reacting to the vote.
Said another: “You can take that piece of trash back to the table and let them know we are not weak pushover(s) and if they want to continue using the best truck builders in the world as they call us then they can give us a fair contract!!”
VTNA builds all its trucks for North America in Virginia. The company announced the contract rejection in a brief press release Sunday night.
“We look forward to working with the UAW to resolve whatever the outstanding issues are, and we remain confident that we will be able to reach a mutually beneficial agreement,” New River Valley Vice President and General Manager Franky Marchand, said in the statement.
The strike in some ways helped Volvo by alleviating a shortage of microchips needed to complete truck builds. Its parent company, Volvo AB, had warned of two to four weeks of downtime this quarter because of the global semiconductor shortage. Volvo would not discuss production losses because of the strike.
Unlike a 13-day strike at sibling Mack Trucks in 2019, the VTNA walkout affected only the Virginia plant. The Mack strike took down production at Lehigh Valley Operations in Pennsylvania and impacted parts distribution and a joint powertrain facility in Maryland. The impact ultimately forced the Volvo plant to halt operations.
VTNA is spending $400 million to expand the plant site for future products, including the Class 8 VNR Electric truck. The plant has added 1,100 jobs since the 2016 union contract and expects to hire approximately 600 more workers this year..