UAW-Daimler labor negotiations reach deal, avoid strike

Published 12:10 am Tuesday, April 30, 2024

CLEVELAND — The threat of a strike at Rowan County’s largest private employer appears over for now. 

At the 11th hour, negotiators with the United Auto Workers reached a tentative agreement with Daimler Truck North America to secure pay raises, cost of living adjustments and for the first time in the company’s history, a profit-sharing incentive.

“We reached a tentative agreement with Daimler,” UAW President Shawn Fain said on Friday at the culmination of the negotiations. “What started 32 years ago this month at the Mt. Holly plant, when the courageous 17-day strikers stood up and won a historic, first-of-its-kind agreement, has come full circle.”

The UAW contract was set to expire at midnight on Friday but the negotiators got the ball across the goal line before exercising plans in place to strike if a deal was not met. 

Per the new contract, all Daimler workers will receive a minimum 25 percent general wage increase over the next four years. 

“When this deal is ratified, you’ll get a 10 percent raise,” Fain said. “Six months later, another 3 percent. Six months after that, another 3 percent. That’s a 16 percent raise in the first year of the deal, alone.”

Fain explained that the contract’s provisions included cost of living adjustments. 

“We said we needed protection against inflation, so workers aren’t left behind,” Fain said. “And we won COLA — cost-of-living for the first time in Daimler history.”

A marquee slogan throughout the contract negotiation period was record profits, record contract. One of the workers’ demands was to feature a profit-sharing clause. 

“We said the company doesn’t get to keep all the profits while the workers who build the product get crumbs,” Fain said. “So we won profit-sharing for the first time in Daimler history, to get our share of that so-called leftover money from their red-hot profits.”

UAW Local 3520 President Corey Hill indicated that the profit sharing is formula based and would be calculated off returns on sales. 

In his message to the workers, Fain said, “The company shouldn’t be able to ship work overseas on a whim. And we won increased job security and increased the build rates. This guarantees a certain minimum number of vehicles will be built at each plant, so workers can know their work will be there tomorrow.”

Hill said that the build rate would increase to 79 trucks per day by end of quarter three this year and to 80 by the end of quarter one in 2025.

Contract extensions amount to victories for workers in four manufacturing facilities throughout North Carolina, including Cleveland, Mt. Holly, Gastonia and High Point. The other facilities are where workers manufacture Thomas Built buses and Western Star trucks. 

“It shouldn’t matter if you build a heavy truck or a bus for Daimler, you should get paid the same for the same work. And we won equal pay for equal work, ending wage tiers at Daimler,” Fain said. “Our lowest paid workers at Thomas Built Bus will see raises of over $8 an hour. Some Thomas Built buses skilled trades members will get an over $17 an hour raise. That’s an over 60 percent raise.” 

Fain expressed his satisfaction in seeing the spoils of a united front. 

“With this agreement, you said, ‘A rising tide needs to lift every single boat,’” Fain said. “No one gets left behind … UAW Family, that is solidarity at its best. We win more when we stick together.”