Members of the United Auto Workers voted down a contract proposal from Daimler Truck by a decisive margin, moving the union closer to a strike against the German-based maker of heavy-duty vehicles.
Members of UAW Local 163 in Redford Township, outside Detroit voted 79% to 21% against a proposed contract presented to them by the union negotiators. The local represents some 1,300 workers at Detroit Diesel, a subsidiary of Daimler Truck and Daimler AG.
“We don’t have a strike date,” a spokeswoman for Local 163 said today.
Workers willing to walk
Last month, Detroit Diesel workers approved a strike, but the UAW executive board has not approved a walkout at DDC complex on the western edge of Detroit. The dispute centers around what union members consider to be a substandard contract offer from the company. With inflation, proposed contract would have reduced the real wages of Detroit Diesel’s unionized employees.
The proposed contract also failed to eliminate a tiered wage system and failed to raise the starting wage of $15 per hour, which is about same rate — or less — paid at fast-food restaurants around Detroit, critics of the proposed agreement noted.
The UAW previously extended its contract with Daimler Truck/Detroit Diesel for one year amid concerns about COVID-19. At the same time, the UAW also was in the middle of a dispute with Volvo Truck, which led to a monthlong strike — a sign of things to come.
Detroit Diesel builds heavy-duty engines and chassis components for the on-highway and heavy-duty trucks. Its engines, transmissions, and axles are used in several models of truck manufactured by Daimler Truck North America, one of the largest makers of heavy-duty truck in the U.S.
Industry faces labor unrest
Last week, 1,000 UAW members went on strike against CNH, a maker of agricultural and industrial equipment. CNH is owned by Exor, the holding company controlled by the Agnelli family, which also own a key block of Stellantis.
It’s the third strike by the UAW against a major company in the last 12 months — another sign of the rank-and-file’s willingness to go to the mat with employers. The dispute has turned into a bitter struggle, with the company bringing in temporary workers to put pressure on the union, according to local press accounts from Iowa.
Meanwhile, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters have begun negotiations in Detroit on a new contract covering “Carhaul” drivers, who move finished cars and trucks from factories to dealerships around the country.
The Teamsters, which were in the midst of the electing new national officers, agreed to a one-year contract, but this year have warned against delays in reaching a settlement satisfying driver demands for a substantial pay increase.
The election last autumn to replace the retiring James P. Hoffa resulted in the installation of a new slate of top officers at the top of the Teamsters, which promised to inject more militancy into contract negotiations with employers such as car hauler companies.
Avral Thompson, Teamster Carhaul Division Director, said negotiators from both sides will meet again in Romulus, Michigan, outside Detroit, next week.
“I believe negotiations are moving along as expected,” Thompson said. “As previously stated, our negotiations will conclude by midnight, May 31 with a proposal to vote. We will not be extending the agreement for negotiations.”