The United Auto Workers (UAW) union went on strike Saturday at Volvo Trucks North America's New River Valley (NRV) truck assembly plant, another significant hurdle in truck production that was already facing headwinds from supply chain shortages.
NRV Vice President and General Manager Franky Marchand noted the company was "surprised and disappointed that the UAW decided to strike,” adding that progress was being made in negotiations with the union "and we had offered substantial increases in our employees’ compensation."
UAW Secretary-Treasurer Ray Curry, Director of the UAW Heavy Truck Department, said the union was "disappointed that Volvo Truck has failed to present a substantial offer by the March 16 contract deadline despite a contract extension," adding that more than 2,900 UAW members at NRV are seeking a new agreement "that protects their families through job security, adequate wages and benefits and protects their health and safety."
The UAW has proposed a future bargaining date of Monday, April 26.
Union members previously voted by a margin of almost 97% to strike if a new agreement was not reached by the March 15 expiration of its five-year contract but UAW opted to keep employees on the job as work toward an agreement continued, signing a 30-day extension that expired Friday.
"We don’t understand why the UAW won’t allow our employees to continue building trucks while we continue negotiations. We are committed to the collective bargaining process, and look forward to getting back to the table," added Marchand. "We are confident that we will be able to arrive at an agreement that provides a competitive wage and benefit package for our employees and families, and helps to ensure the plant’s competitiveness, long-term growth and sustainability.”
UAW previously went on strike at NRV in February 2008, and an agreement was reached the following month.
UAW members in October 2019 went on strike at Volvo sister company Mack Trucks for roughly two weeks, impacting operations at Mack's Lehigh Valley truck plant, the Hagerstown, Maryland, powertrain plant, the Mack Customer Care Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Mack's Middletown, Pennsylvania, remanufacturing facility, and parts distribution centers in Baltimore and Jacksonville.
Volvo's NRV plant employs more than 3,300 people. The plant is in the midst of a $400 million investment for advanced technology upgrades, site expansion and preparation for future products. The plant has added 1,100 jobs since the current union agreement was implemented in 2016 and is on track to have a net increase of approximately 600 positions in 2021, Volvo said.