UAW wins last-minute deal with Daimler Truck to avert a strike

This story has been updated to include Daimler Truck's statement

Just 65 minutes before the UAW's contract with Daimler Truck North America expired, union President Sean Fine, standing before what he called a “powerful bargaining committee,” announced a historic deal to avert a strike by more than 7,000 workers at facilities in North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.

The four-year agreement includes raises of more than 25%, the end of wage levels and the introduction of profit-sharing and cost-of-living increases for the first time since Daimler workers first organized with the UAW.

Members waiting for a live update from Fain on Facebook became impatient and hopeful when the scheduled 10pm start time came and went. It appears that some felt that the delay was related to last-minute negotiations.

Finn confirmed this sentiment when he told members: “They tried to hold us back. But we kept our eyes on the clock. As the deadline approached, the company was suddenly ready to talk.

He also presented more details about the initial agreement that must be ratified by union members.

These details include:

· Profit sharing

· The lowest-paid workers at Thomas Built Bus will receive a raise of more than $8 per hour. Raises for some skilled trade workers will exceed $17 per hour.

· Increased job security and guaranteed construction rates

· Health and safety improvements.

Fain was empowered to call a strike after 96% of workers at those plants voted on March 8 to give the union permission to call a strike if necessary. It wasn't.

“Daimler Truck North America and the United Auto Workers (UAW) have tentatively agreed to new collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) covering approximately 7,400 employees at our manufacturing and components facilities in High Point, N.C. (Thomas Bus), and the truck manufacturing plant in Mt. The truck manufacturing plant in Cleveland, the Gastonia parts plant, the parts distribution center in Atlanta, and the parts distribution center in Memphis will now be asked to vote on the new contracts, we hope to, the company said in a statement “It will be completed soon, for the mutual benefit of all parties.”

Winning a richer contract at Daimler Truck North America marks the UAW's second major victory in the South in a week.

Exactly a week ago, non-union workers at a Volkswagen assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, voted overwhelmingly to join the UAW, giving the union its first victory after decades of trying to gain approval to represent workers at foreign-owned auto plants in the United States.

In May, workers at two Mercedes-Benz plants in Alabama will vote on whether to join the union. Fain's goal is to organize non-union auto workers managed by foreign and domestic automakers.

Just last Tuesday, the UAW filed four unfair labor practices charges against Daimler Truck North America with the National Labor Relations Board.

The charges filed Tuesday include:

· Retaliation against workers who participate in union activities or who show support for the union.

· Interfering with workers’ rights to organize, bargain collectively, and undertake other activities for “mutual aid and protection.”

· Discrimination against union members on the basis of their union membership or union activity.

· Not bargaining in good faith.

Fein did not address these accusations in his statements on Friday evening.

He said the union will celebrate the tentative new deal at a “victory rally” Saturday at UAW Local 3520 in Statesville, North Carolina.

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