UAW workers reject Mack Trucks contract, go on strike

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Thousands of workers at Mack Trucks walked off the job Monday after overwhelmingly rejecting a proposed five-year contract.

The action dramatically widens the number of striking United Auto Workers members, who since mid-September have been pressing Ford, General Motors and Chrysler parent Stellantis for higher wages and other concessions through targeted actions at their plants. About 25,000 UAW workers had been on strike before the Mack walkout.

Mack was not initially part of the union’s historic campaign against the Big Three automakers, but recent developments in those negotiations — such as Ford agreeing to boost its own wage increase to 23 percent over four years — may have raised expectations among the truckmaker’s unionized staff.

The proposed contract covering roughly 4,000 Mack employees in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Florida was turned down by 73 percent of the vote, the UAW announced late Sunday. It would have raised wages nearly 20 percent — starting with a 10 percent bump the first year — as well as frozen health insurance premiums over the life of the contract.

The union remains committed to reaching an agreement, UAW President Shawn Fain said in the strike notice. But, he added, “clearly we are not there yet.” He cited several areas up for discussion, including provisions related to pay, work schedules, benefits, and health and safety.

Mack Trucks President Stephen Roy said the company is “surprised and disappointed” by the vote, noting that union representatives had called the tentative agreement “historic” when it was announced Oct. 2.

“We are committed to the collective bargaining process, and remain confident that we will be able to arrive at an agreement that delivers competitive wages and benefits for our employees and their families, while safeguarding our future as a competitive company and stable long-term employer,” Roy said.

Mack Trucks is best known for its semi trucks, though it also produces construction equipment and firetrucks, and has a defense division that makes military-grade construction vehicles. It is a unit of the Swedish manufacturer Volvo.

In a Sunday bargaining update, the company also seemed to push back on comparisons to other automakers. “Given other negotiations in the news, it’s important to emphasize that Mack’s market, business, and competitors are very different from those of the passenger carmakers,” the company said.

UAW doesn’t expand strike, citing progress in talks with Ford, GM

The UAW’s targeted strikes against the Big Three have been underway since Sept. 15. Last week, it held off on expanding them, citing progress with Ford and GM: In addition to Ford’s more robust wage offer, GM agreed to bring battery manufacturing facilities under the national union contract.

On Monday, GM published a few updates on its latest offer, which it submitted last week. It said it is now ready to contribute 8 percent of wages to the 401(k) retirement accounts of employees who aren’t eligible for pensions, compared with 6.4 percent today. It also proposed contributing $1.25 per hour worked, up from $1, to accounts that employees can use to help pay for health care in retirement. It also proposed converting all temporary employees with one year or more of service to permanent positions.

The workers kicked off their strike amid a summer of action across multiple sectors and a broader labor resurgence. The “hot labor summer” has seen more than 350,000 U.S. workers walk off the job, calling for stronger remedies to make up for wage erosion under inflation.

The ranks of striking workers included 170,000 actors and screenwriters, whose work stoppage effectively shut down Hollywood. While the screenwriters in September ended their strike after nearly 150 days, the actors are still locked in negotiations with studios.

In July, 340,000 UPS workers negotiated a historically strong contract under the threat of a strike that would have shaken the U.S. economy. And just last week, more than 75,000 Kaiser Permanente workers walked off the job in a three-day strike that closed facilities and caused appointment delays.

Workers at Mack Trucks now join droves of striking workers.

“I’m inspired to see UAW members at Mack holding out for a better deal, and ready to stand up and walk off the job to win it,” Fain, the UAW president, said in a statement Sunday.

Lauren Kaori Gurley and Jeanne Whalen contributed to this report.



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