Striking Volvo union rejects labor deal for the third time

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Updated Jul 12, 2021
aerial photo of Volvo's truck plant
The Volvo Group 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.

United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 2069 members rejected for the third time a new labor agreement Friday evening, extending a strike at Volvo Trucks North America's New River Valley truck assembly operations (NRV) in Dublin, Virginia, that has dragged on for more than a month. 

Volvo Trucks and UAW leadership reached their most recent agreement July 1, and Friday the deal was put before local membership, which rejected it by a fairly wide margin. Hourly language was shot down 60% to 40%, common language 60% to 40% and salary language 67% to 33%.

Brian Rothenberg, UAW International director of public relations, said the current strike will continue and that the elected UAW Local 2069 Bargaining Committee will continue to work on negotiating a new labor contract.

“Given the significant wage gains and first-class benefits this agreement delivered, and the strong support it garnered from UAW leadership at every level, this outcome is unexpected and very disappointing,” said NRV Vice President and General Manager Franky Marchand. "Now that our employees have rejected three successive agreements endorsed by the leaders they elected to represent them, we need to consider our next steps."

Volvo's NRV plant employs more than 3,300 people, about 2,900 of whom are UAW members. The plant is in the midst of a $400 million investment for advanced technology upgrades, site expansion and preparation for future products, including the innovative Volvo VNR Electric truck. 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 this year. 

"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," Marchand said. "No one is gaining from the current situation, and we will consider all options related to the bargaining process.”

Contract negotiations between UAW and Volvo started Feb. 8. UAW Local 2069 workers went on strike Saturday, April 17, following the lapse of a 30-day extension to a five-year contract that expired March 15. The union strike ended April 30 after a two-week work stoppage when the parties reached a tentative agreement on a new five-year deal, but local members ultimately rejected the proposal.

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Local 2069 members rejected a subsequent six-year labor agreement June 6 and returned to strike the following day. 

Jason Cannon has written about trucking and transportation for more than a decade and serves as Chief Editor of Commercial Carrier Journal. A Class A CDL holder, Jason is a graduate of the Porsche Sport Driving School, an honorary Duckmaster at The Peabody in Memphis, Tennessee, and a purple belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu. Reach him at [email protected]