Volvo Trucks North America
Volvo Nrv Plant Exterior

UAW members reject latest Volvo agreement

July 12, 2021
After months of negotiating and a tentative agreement, 60% of UAW members at the New River Valley plant still are not satisfied with the terms and continue to strike.

The third time was not the charm for negotiators working to hash out a new five-year collective bargaining agreement between the Volvo Group and the United Auto Workers Local No. 2069 employed at the New River Valley (NRV) truck assembly operations in Dublin, Virginia.

The latest deal was struck between the truck manufacturer and elected union leadership on July 1, and included better wage progression and starting pay, along with no increases to health benefits over the contract’s life. On July 9, 40% of the 2,900 UAW members who voted found the terms acceptable. There are 3,300 total employees at the plant.

Significant progress has been made from the first agreement reached in late April, where 91% of voting members rejected the deal’s common language and 83% voted down the salary language. That tentative agreement did succeed in ending the spring strike. And while this latest agreement does not satisfy the majority of union workers there, Volvo said it will honor the latest agreement’s terms for those who cross the picket lines and return to the production line.

In a statement released over the weekend, Volvo Group announced: After reaching an impasse today in discussions with United Auto Workers negotiators regarding a new contract for the company’s NRV plant, Volvo Trucks North America will on July 12, 2021, implement the terms and conditions of the tentative agreement endorsed by UAW leaders on July 1, 2021. Any employees who return to work on July 12 or thereafter will immediately receive the wage increases and benefits outlined in the July 1 agreement, except for the ratification bonuses that would be paid on contract ratification.

The plant is in the midst of $400 million worth of upgrades and expansion and will assemble the Volvo VNR Electric, but the labor discord will likely delay production timelines.

“The ongoing strike—which we continue to believe is unnecessary—is hurting our customers, and has already set back our project to expand and upgrade the facility,” said NRV Vice President and General Manager Franky Marchand, who called the rejection “unexpected and very disappointing.”

After voters struck down the deal, the UAW released the following statement: "The strike will continue. The elected UAW Local 2069 Bargaining Committee will continue to work to negotiate a fair contract that reflects the value of this hardworking membership. We appreciate the solidarity and support of the community as we continue to walk the picket line and work to negotiate a fair contract for UAW Local 2069 members."

Volvo noted that 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” and the NRV plant added 1,100 jobs since the last agreement started in 2016, and is on pace to increase 600 net jobs in 2021.

“We need to safeguard our future, and start building trucks for the many customers and dealers whose businesses and livelihoods depend on our products,” Marchand said. “Our last offer delivered significant wage gains and first-class benefits for our employees, and 40% of UAW voters supported it. We look forward to welcoming employees back to the plant, and to getting back to building the industry’s best heavy-duty trucks.”

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FleetOwner Staff

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Kevin Jones, Editorial Director, Commercial Vehicle Group

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