About 3,900 United Auto Workers (UAW) members with Mack Trucks are set to go on strike on Monday after rejecting a tentative agreement that was reached last week between the union and the company. This comes as a blow to both parties, with the rejection rate reaching a staggering 73% among UAW members who voted. The strike will affect facilities in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Florida, and will add to the already significant number of UAW members on strike, including more than 25,000 employees with General Motors, Ford Motor, and Stellantis.
A Potential Test of Worker Willingness
The Mack Trucks deal was seen as a potential test of the willingness of workers to ratify an agreement that did not meet raised expectations set by UAW President Shawn Fain. Fain had been pushing for record contracts that included hourly pay increases, equal pay for equal work, inflation protection, and shorter work weeks. However, the tentative agreement with Volvo Group-owned Mack Trucks fell significantly short of these demands, leading many workers to express their disappointment and vote against the deal.
Expectations vs Reality
One Mack Trucks worker described the deal as “disgraceful” and an “insult” compared to their expectations and ongoing negotiations with the Detroit automakers. Workers were expecting similar increases and benefits as their union colleagues at the Big Three. However, the tentative agreement only offered a wage increase of approximately 19% over the five-year deal, with additional benefits such as ratification bonuses and increased 401(k) company payments. The deal did not include the elimination of wage tiers, the reinstatement of traditional pensions, cost-of-living adjustments, or shorter work weeks. These deficiencies in the agreement further fueled the workers’ dissatisfaction and rejection of the deal.
Although Mack Trucks is a separate company and part of a different section of the union than the Detroit automakers, some workers had a legitimate expectation that they would receive similar increases and benefits. However, it became apparent that the Mack Trucks tentative agreement fell short of what was being negotiated with the Big Three. Workers have expressed feeling like they are “low on the totem pole” and have received no backing from the international leadership of the UAW. This disparity in treatment between the bargaining units has only served to further disillusion and alienate the already frustrated workers.
The demands put forth by UAW negotiators with the Detroit automakers include a 40% pay increase, cost-of-living allowances, work/life balance improvements, and other bonuses and benefits. UAW President Shawn Fain has highlighted several outstanding issues, such as cost-of-living adjustments, job security, wage progression, and more. Fain acknowledges that the members’ rejection of the tentative agreement is the final word, and he remains committed to exploring all options for reaching an agreement. However, it is clear that both sides are still far apart in their negotiations.
Mack Trucks President Stephen Roy expressed surprise and disappointment over the UAW’s decision to strike, viewing it as unnecessary. He stated that the company is committed to the collective bargaining process and is confident in reaching an agreement that ensures competitive wages and benefits for employees while safeguarding their future as a competitive company. Roy emphasized the company’s eagerness to return to the negotiation table as soon as possible.
The Mack Trucks strike showcases the discontent and frustration among UAW members, adding to the ongoing strikes against the Detroit automakers. The rejection of the tentative agreement by an overwhelming majority of voting members signals a significant disconnect between the workers’ expectations and what was negotiated. As negotiations continue, it remains uncertain when an agreement will be reached that addresses the workers’ demands while also meeting the company’s goals. Both parties must find common ground to resolve the outstanding issues and bring an end to the strike that has disrupted operations and impacted thousands of workers.