*Editor's Note: This news was originally published July 13, and updated July 15 with new information.
Volvo Trucks North America announces employees represented by the United Auto Workers union (UAW) have ratified a new 6-year agreement. It covers around 2,900 members of UAW Local #2069 who work at Volvo's New River Valley truck assembly operations (NRV) in Dublin, VA.
“This agreement allows us to continue providing our employees with a great quality of life, with guaranteed wage growth and excellent benefits,” said NRV Vice President and General Manager Franky Marchand, in Volvo's press release announcing the signing of the agreement. “It will also help secure the plant’s long-term growth and sustainability. Our focus now will be on getting trucks to customers as quickly as we can, and strengthening our relationship with our employees.”
According to The Detroit News, the hourly workers voted 1,147 to 1,130 for the six-year contract and will suspend their on-and-off strike that began in April. Unionized salaried workers, however, voted against the pact 45-40, but Ray Curry, UAW president, said in a statement that the union has an established process to address concerns raised over the salary agreement.
The announcement of the contract's ratification comes after weeks of back and forth negotiations between the truck OEM and UAW.
Most recently, Volvo Trucks announced it would restart production at its NRV operations on July 12, despite an ongoing impasse with UAW. Union members rejected a collective bargaining agreement approved by UAW leadership for the third time late last week.
The NRV facility employs more than 3,300 people, about 2,900 of whom are members of UAW Local #2069. The previous contract, reached in 2016, expired in mid-March and unionized workers voted to go on strike on April 17, returning to work on April 30th as negotiations continued. The strike was resumed on June 7, the day following members’ rejection of the latest proposal.
“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 Franky Marchand, NRV vice president and general manager. He noted that with employees rejecting three successive agreements, the company was forced to consider its next steps.
In a statement issued July 12, Volvo Trucks noted the restart of operations, indicating any employees reporting to work on July 12 would immediately receive the wage increases and benefits outlined in the July 1 agreement with union leaders, except for the ratification bonuses that would be paid on contract ratification.
In announcing the move, Marchand commented, “We need to safeguard our future, and start building trucks for the many customers and dealers whose businesses and livelihoods depend on our products.
“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,” he added.
According to the company, 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. The 1.6 million-sq.-ft. NRV plant is in the midst of a $400 million investment for advanced technology upgrades, site expansion and preparation for future products, including the 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 in 2021.
Information provided by Volvo Trucks North America and edited/enhanced by Becky Schultz and Sara Jensen.