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UAW strike at Daimler Truck averted at 11th hour

Union workers at Daimler Truck who make Freightliner and Western Star trucks and Thomas Built buses in North Carolina won significant raises and cost of living allowances.
Karen Bleier
AFP via Getty Images
Union workers at Daimler Truck who make Freightliner and Western Star trucks and Thomas Built buses in North Carolina won significant raises and cost of living allowances.

The United Auto Workers union announced late Friday it had struck a favorable new contract deal for 7,300 Daimler Truck North America workers. The union had threatened a strike starting at midnight when their last contract expired.

A vast majority of the union employees work at plants in North Carolina, where Daimler makes Freightliner and Western Star trucks and Thomas Built buses. A smaller number of workers staff parts distribution centers in Atlanta and Memphis. The UAW first unionized workers at Daimler Truck starting in the 1990s.

Like the Big 3 autoworkers who walked off the job last fall, Daimler workers have been demanding significant raises, reviving the "record profits mean record contracts" slogan of last year's strike.

The union said the new contract included raises of at least 25% over four years, as well as cost of living allowances and profit sharing, firsts for Daimler Truck workers since they joined the UAW. Those gains are similar to what the union secured for Big 3 workers last fall.

Union workers still need to ratify the deal.

Earlier Friday, Daimler Truck issued a statement saying it was engaged in good faith negotiations with the UAW, working toward new contracts that would benefit both sides and "allow Daimler Truck North America to continue delivering the products that enable our customers to keep the world moving."

The culmination of the talks comes just a week after the UAW scored a momentous victory in another Southern state, winning a union election at Volkswagen's plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. It was the union's third attempt at organizing the plant, after the first two ended in narrow defeats.

On May 13, workers at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Vance, Ala., will begin voting on whether to join the UAW.

Once part of the same company, Daimler Truck split with Mercedes-Benz in 2021. Still, an outcome seen as favorable to workers in North Carolina could give the UAW a boost not only in the upcoming Mercedes-Benz election, but also union drives underway at Hyundai, Toyota, and Honda, other foreign-owned auto plants in the South.

The UAW pledged earlier this year to spend $40 million on organizing efforts through 2026, with a focus on the South.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Andrea Hsu is NPR's labor and workplace correspondent.

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