- UAW members are preparing to vote on a labor agreement with Mack Trucks, which is owned by the Volvo Group.
- These workers hope they can receive benefits similar to what their fellow Detroit automakers are seeking.
- But Mack Trucks — which offers 19% pay raises, certification bonuses, increased company 401(k) payouts and other benefits — isn’t in the same position as the Big Three automakers.
Striking UAW members picket GM’s Lansing Delta plant in Delta Township, Michigan, on September 29, 2023.
Rebecca Cook | Reuters
DETROIT — Members of the United Auto Workers with Volvo Group-owned Mack Trucks will vote this weekend on a tentative agreement that falls well short of what the union is demanding in negotiations currently underway with Detroit automakers.
A vote by nearly 3,900 union members Sunday could test how willing workers are to ratify a lower deal compared to the high expectations set by UAW President Sean Fine for increased hourly wages, equal pay for equal work, inflation protection and possibly shorter work weeks.
While Mack Trucks is a separate company and a different part of the union from the division that covers members at General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Stellantis, some workers had expected they would receive similar raises and benefits as their unionized brothers at the Detroit automakers.
“In my opinion, the prime contract is not terrible. It’s not a bad contract, but it’s nowhere near what we expected,” a 12-year Mack Truck worker at the company’s Lehigh Valley operations in Pennsylvania told CNBC.
The worker and several other UAW members at Mack Trucks, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation from the union or company, said they plan to vote against the deal. Their reasons included the initial agreement not meeting expectations, the length of the deal being a year longer than before, and insufficient wage increases and bonuses to offset inflation or reward them for working during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“When we came in, we were basically following like the automakers,” the worker said. “They have changed some things for the better, but in my opinion, not enough.”
The initial agreement for Mack Trucks varies by location and job however For many workers, It includes a wage increase of approximately 19% over the five-year agreement, including 10% upon ratification; $3,500 validation bonus; Increase 401(k) company payouts; And other benefits. It does not include eliminating pay levels (it only has a one-year reduction that would take the steps to five years); reinstatement of traditional pensions; Cost of living adjustments to fight inflation; Or shorter work weeks.
Mack Trucks’ tentative agreement isn’t a bad deal, but it’s nowhere near the 40% pay raise, inflation protection, work-life balance, bonuses and other benefits that Fain has set as the standard for negotiations with Detroit automakers. For Detroit automakers, wage levels have also been cut by at least half in eight years — a time frame that Fine, a former auto worker, said Friday was “unacceptable.”
Mack Trucks and the UAW announced the tentative agreement early Monday, followed by releasing “highlights” of the deal later in the week to members. Neither the UAW nor Mack Trucks released the tentative contract publicly before staff meetings to clarify details of the agreement and vote this weekend.
Another Mack Trucks worker called the deal “disgraceful” and “insulting” compared to their expectations and what UAW International leaders are currently negotiating with the Detroit automakers, also known as the Big Three.
“We are a low man on the totem pole, and we don’t get any support from the international level,” said a materials technician who has been working for more than 10 years. “They’re just pushing this [tentative agreement] So they don’t have to deal with us while the Big Three negotiate.”
UAW President Sean Fine during a webcast updating union members on negotiations with automakers in Detroit on October 6, 2023.
The UAW declined to comment on the comparison in contracts between Mack Trucks and the Detroit automakers. The tentative agreement “would provide significantly increased wages and continue to provide first-class benefits to Mack employees and their families,” while keeping the company competitive, Mack Trucks President Stephen Roy said in a statement Monday.
Another veteran worker at Mack Truck’s Lehigh Valley operations in Pennsylvania said they were not expecting the same raises and benefits being negotiated with Detroit automakers, but were looking for more than what was in the current tentative agreement.
“We pay dues just like the Big Three,” said the employee, who has been with Mack Trucks for about 20 years and has worked in several positions at the company. “We should at least have the same kind of negotiating options.”
One “option” cited by McTrak workers was to conduct targeted strikes like what is happening at Detroit automakers to fight for additional wages and benefits and, specifically, cost-of-living adjustments to combat inflation.
The worker said: “My honest opinion, I thought we were going on strike because there was no Coke.” “So, in five years, we will be back in the same hole.”
Marek Masters, Professor of Business At Wayne State University Based in Detroit and specializing in labor issues, he said it’s important to note that Mack Trucks is not in the same position as Detroit automakers. However, inflated expectations from union members can pose a problem.
“The UAW could be a victim of its own success,” he said. “They’re getting a good deal here and everyone will say we want the same thing…but they’re in different industries or different segments of the larger industry that have different financial considerations, and I think that’s what you’re seeing here.”
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