UAW notifies International of ‘break’ from negotiations

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International Truck and Engine Corp. announced Oct. 4 that it has been notified by the United Auto Workers that it has chosen “to take a break from bargaining” in order to conduct a detailed examination of International’s proposals.

“We are disappointed in the union’s decision to break because timely resolution of these issues is critical to our union plants,” says Jeff Bowen, vice president of human resources for Warrenville, Ill.-based International. “Changes we’ve proposed are already in place at other UAW-represented manufacturers in our industry.”

For more than two years, the company and union have engaged in various periods of negotiations, attempting to reach agreement on changes that would improve the competitiveness of International’s UAW-represented facilities. Negotiations most recently began on Aug. 27 and have proceeded continuously until today when the UAW chose to take this break.

UAW-represented employees have continued to work without a contract since the prior contracts expired Oct. 1. “We need to continue to negotiate to come to resolution,” Bowen says. The company says its proposals would maintain a good quality of life for employees and retirees and improve noncompetitive issues at its union plants.

The UAW represents about 3,700 employees at nine International in Indianapolis (engine assembly and foundry), Melrose Park, Ill. (engine assembly and engine engineering), Springfield, Ohio (truck assembly), Atlanta, York (Pa.) and Dallas (parts distribution centers) and Fort Wayne, Ind. (truck engineering). Total worldwide employment at the company is 16,000.

“We agree at this stage that it’s best to keep talking, so we can continue making progress at the bargaining table,” UAW Vice President General Holiefield, who directs the union’s Heavy Truck Department, said in a press release Oct. 1. “But we don’t agree with what this company is trying to do to our membership.” In previous contract agreements, Holiefield said, “UAW members have gone the extra mile and then some to help this company be competitive.”

“No matter what we do for this company, it’s never enough,” said Charlie Hayden, president of UAW Local 402 in Springfield. “Plain and simple, this is a predator company that refuses to recognize the contributions made by our membership.”

“We understand this industry and we understand what’s needed to help this company succeed,” said Holiefield. “We don’t understand why International Truck and Engine is refusing to meet us halfway.”