3,500 Mack Trucks Workers Go On Strike For First Time Since 1984
Macungie Township, PA – Approximately 3,500 employees of Mack Trucks in Pennsylvania, Florida and Maryland officially went on strike Saturday night at 11:59 p.m. — the first strike from Mack employees since 1984.
On Friday evening, leadership from United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 677 posted an update on their website, making the following statement:
As of 11:59pm, Saturday night (10/12/19), we will be on strike. If you are working, please leave the building at this time and go home. Beginning at 8:00 a.m., Sunday morning, we will start picketing. If you are scheduled at that time, please report to your assigned location.
We are asking ALL of our members to come out at 8:00 a.m., Sunday morning, to picket at the Macungie Plant and LVLC Warehouse.
Please wear red – in solidarity!
Stay United and Stay Strong!
Also on Friday, a letter was sent to D. William Waters, director of employee and labor relations at Volvo Trucks North America, Mack’s sister company under Sweden-based Volvo Group, from UAW’s Secretary-Treasurer, Ray Curry.
In the letter, Curry tells Waters, “We are disappointed that the Company failed to provide any substantial offer prior to the October 1 expiration date or during the subsequent meetings held during the period in which we extended the contract.”
Leadership from UAW estimated approximately 1,500 members arrived at the Macungie Plant at 8 a.m. Sunday morning wearing red to picket, as requested.
A vote by union members to authorize the strike is typically used as a part of the negotiating process.
In this instance, Union members cast their vote to authorize the strike on September 20, in the event an agreement was not met by the October 1 expiration date.
The two sides agreed to continue operating under the terms of the previous three-year agreement in a day-by-day extension as negotiations progressed until 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, October 12.
Curry cited numerous unresolved issues between the Union and Mack leading to the strike, including, but not limited to: wage increases, pension and 401(k) issues, health care, prescription drug coverage, work schedules, overtime, and job security.
In a response statement on Saturday morning regarding the looming strike, Mack’s president, Martin Weissburg, said he was “surprised and disappointed that the UAW decided to strike, rather than to allow our employees to keep building trucks and engines while the parties continued to negotiate.”
“The positive working relationship between local UAW leadership and management at our facilities was clearly in evidence throughout the negotiations, and progress was being made,” Weissburg continued.
Weissburg made assurances that there are no plans to close any U.S. manufacturing.
Weissburg also noted that Mack is a part of the only heavy-duty truck manufacturing group that assembles all of its trucks and engines for the North American market in the U.S. instead of building products in other countries for lower costs, as their competitors do.
“We’ve invested more that $400 million in our plants and logistics network over the last ten years, and since 2015, have insourced work that has created more that 500 jobs in our U.S. factories,” Weissburg stated.
According to Curry, UAW will be available to reconvene negotiations on October 21.
This is Mack’s first strike in 35 years, when 9,200 workers striked for nine days in 1984 before a tentative agreement was reached.
During the last round of contract negotiations between Mack and the Union in 2016, an agreement was reached less than a day after the previous agreement expired.
The Macungie Plant where the picket is scheduled to begin Sunday morning is located about 10 miles southwest of Allentown, PA.
According to Mack, every truck built for the North American market gets its start at the Macungie Plant.
Mack’s strike comes in the middle of a national strike of 46,000 UAW members striking General Motors (GM) in 10 states and 55 locations, which began on September 16.
Photo courtesy of Mack Trucks