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UAW on strike, company responds

By DAVID GRAVELY
editor@southwesttimes.com

Dublin Volvo Truck workers of United Auto Workers Local 2069 walked out of the plant Saturday morning at 6 a.m. on strike due to what they are claiming are “unfair work practices” and a failure to come to an agreement with the company.

This comes after the deadline of a 30-day extension of the current contract passed Friday at midnight.

In a letter distributed on the Union Facebook page, Ray Curry, Secretary-Treasurer and Director of UAW Heavy Truck Department, noted that the group “has voted to begin a strike at 6 a.m. on Saturday morning, April 17, 2021. Employees working at that time will exit their facilities in an orderly manner after performing any tasks necessary to prevent damage to the Company’s equipment or product.”

The reason for the strike was outlined in the remainder of the letter.

“Over the last three months, we have met with Company representatives in an effort to address issues raised by our members,” the letter stated. “We are disappointed that the Company failed to provide any substantial offer prior to the March 16, 2021, expiration date or during the subsequent meetings held during the period in which we extended the contract. Our goal was to reach a tentative agreement between the parties and avoid a strike.”

While the strike has begun and workers have walked out and began picketing, the letter reminds the reader that the Union does wish to resolve the issues.

“The Union remains committed to exploring all options for reaching an agreement,” it states. “as you know, many topics remain unresolve, including wage increases, job security, wage progression, skilled trades, shift premiums, holiday schedules, health and safety, seniority, pension, 401(k), healthcare and prescription drug coverage and overtime. We are confident that further discussion of these, and other open issues, will result in progress toward the goal of a contract that works for both the Company and its employees.”

The letter ends with an invitation to return to negotiations, but not immediately.

“This will also confirm that the Union is available to reconvene negotiations on Monday, April 26, 2021,” it states. “To facilitate bargaining, we ask that you respond to our pending information requests as soon as possible.”

The last strike by 2069 began in February 2008 and lasted until the middle of March.

Workers were quickly moved to safe areas outside of the plant to picket, where they currently remain with signs in hand. They are now working in groups, rotating on the picket line at assigned times and at all entries to the plant.

With the workers organized and on the picket line, Volvo released an official statement later Saturday afternoon.

“We are surprised and disappointed that the UAW decided to strike,” said NRV Vice President and General Manager Franky Marchand. “Progress was being made, and we had offered substantial increases in our employees’ compensation. We don’t understand why the UAW won’t allow our employees to continue building trucks while we continue negotiations. We are committed to the collective bargaining process, and look forward to getting back to the table. We are confident that we will be able to arrive at an agreement that provides a competitive wage and benefit package for our employees and families, and helps to ensure the plant’s competitiveness, long-term growth and sustainability.”

The Volvo Group is the only heavy-duty truck manufacturing group that assembles all of its trucks and engines for the North American market in the United States. The NRV plant employs more than 3,300 people, about 2,900 of whom are UAW members.

The plant is in the midst of a $400 million investment for advanced technology upgrades, site expansion and preparation for future products, including the innovative Volvo VNR Electric truck, slated for the serial production launch this spring. The plant has added 1,100 jobs since the current union agreement was implemented in 2016 and is on track to have a net increase of approximately 600 positions in 2021.

Non-union workers, supervisors and managers continue to report for work.

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