No deal: Volvo truck workers striking again in Virginia

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New River Valley Plant
Nearly 3,000 workers are once again on strike at Volvo’s New River Valley truck manufacturing plant in Dublin, Va., after employees represented by the United Auto Workers Union voted to reject Volvo’s latest six-year agreement. (Courtesy: Volvo)

DUBLIN, Va. — Nearly 3,000 workers at Volvo’s New River Valley truck plant in southwest Virginia went back on strike Monday, June 7, after they overwhelmingly rejected another tentative six-year agreement over a wide range of concerns, the United Auto Workers said.

Meanwhile, it’s back to the negotiating table for the union and management at the New River Valley plant. The workers’ bargaining committee has requested a meeting to discuss open issues including the interview process for future hires, health care, wages, health and safety issues, working conditions, plant shift operations, contractual time off and wage progression, UAW said.

The plant’s general manager, Franky Marchand, called the action “difficult to understand” on Monday, since the tentative agreement included economic improvements for all workers and a competitive benefits package.

“We remain committed to the collective bargaining process, and we are confident that we will ultimately arrive at a mutually beneficial agreement,” his statement said.

Volvo says the 1.6 million square-foot Dublin plant is the largest manufacturer of Volvo tractor-trailer trucks in the world. It is one of the largest private sector employers in the region, with approximately 3,300 employees, some 2,900 of whom are represented by the UAW.

Results posted Sunday, June 6, by Local 2069 indicate that 90% voted no on both common language and hourly language in the contract proposal. On salary language, 91% voted no. No vote totals were released, just percentages.

The previous contract, reached in 2016, was to have expired in mid-March and negotiations began in February. Unionized workers went on strike April 17-30 and returned to work as negotiations resumed. UAW members rejected a proposed contract in May. The company announced another tentative agreement May 22, which was rejected Sunday.

The plant is in the midst of a $400 million investment for advanced technology upgrades, site expansion, and preparation for future products, which includes the innovative Volvo VRN Electric truck.

Since the last union agreement was implemented in 2016, the plant has added 1,100 new jobs and is on track for a net increase of approximately 600 positions in 2021.

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