Mack Truck Employees Go on Strike
Hundreds of UAW Local 677 workers walked out for the first time in 35 years
With the GM strike entering its fourth week, the UAW now has more workers walking out after hundreds of workers at Mack Trucks have walked out. Read more below from The Morning Call.
Waving signs and wearing red T-shirts, hundreds of Mack Truck union workers peacefully gathered Sunday morning along the side streets of Mack Truck’s Lower Macungie Township plant as they hit the picket line for the first time in 35 years.
The spectacle of solidarity centered at the Route 100 intersections at Alburtis and Gehman roads as motorists gave an occasional honk of support.
Walt Smith, president of United Auto Workers Local 677, estimated that close to 1,500 people turned out by 8 a.m. to begin picketing for many priorities, including job security.
“Hopefully, we’ll get it resolved,” he said.
The strike, which includes workers in three states, including the bulk of the division’s Lehigh Valley workforce, comes after negotiations went 10 days past a key deadline. The strike includes Mack’s massive assembly plant in Lower Macungie Township, which employs 2,400 people. UAW Local 677 members in Allentown and Middletown, Dauphin County, also will be affected, along with members in Baltimore, Hagerstown, Maryland, and Jacksonville, Florida.
It will be the first strike for Mack since 1984, when 9,200 workers stayed out for nine days, closing the manufacturer’s U.S. plants before a tentative agreement was reached.
Mack President Martin Weissburg said in a statement Saturday he was “surprised and disappointed that the UAW decided to strike, rather than to allow our employees to keep building trucks and engines while the parties continued to negotiate.”
“The positive working relationship between local UAW leadership and management at our facilities was clearly in evidence throughout the negotiations, and progress was being made,” he said.
Once the previous three-year agreement expired at 11:59 p.m. Oct. 1, the two sides agreed to continue operating under the terms of the existing agreement as negotiations progressed. The union told its members to report to work as scheduled and await further updates as the day-by-day extension neared expiration at 11:59 p.m. Saturday.
In a letter posted late Friday to the United Auto Workers Local 677 website, UAW Secretary-Treasurer Ray Curry said the union was hoping to avoid a strike but that the two sides were unable to resolve several issues, including wage increases, health care and prescription drug coverage, and work schedules. He informed the company that the UAW Mack Truck Council voted to begin a strike at 11:59 p.m. Saturday. The letter notes that employees working at that time would exit company facilities in an orderly manner.
In the letter, the union said it is available to reconvene negotiations Oct. 21, eight days after the picketing began.
In the Lehigh Valley, Mack’s employment has boomed amid a strong heavy-duty truck market in North America. The plant has been working through an order backlog this year, but the market is starting to soften.