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October 09, 2023

United Auto Workers on strike, picket at Volvo-owned Mack Truck plant

Credit: DC News Now

HAGERSTOWN, Md. (DC News Now) — The United Autoworkers and one of America’s largest builders of medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks have been at the bargaining table.

The picketers were outside the plant at sunrise to start the week.

“I was a machinist and a tool and dye-maker my entire life,” said Tim Wallen, now retired from the UAW but on the picket line in support of his fellow union members. “I came here and went on the assembly line. It’s a hard job.”

Wallen and his fellow union members are pushing for a 19% pay raise.

“I’ve worked here and I know what it’s like to be on the assembly line all day long,” said Wallen. “It’s not easy.”

There are 4,000 Mack Truck workers in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Florida seeking a 36% pay hike phased in over four years. He and his fellow autoworkers want concessions on work schedules, safety rules, pensions, and better over time.

“Why is it that CEOs make $50 million a year,” asks Wallen. “The employees make $50,000 a year, $60,000 a year.”

Management says that to remain competitive with foreign truck builders it cannot meet UAW demands. Along with Mack, strikers are picketing at GM and Ford plants and at Stellantis, maker of the Jeep line of vehicles.

Standing with the strikers is the 2024 U.S. Senate candidate for Maryland, David Trone, who currently represents the congressional district where the Mack Truck plant is located.

“We’ve got two levels of workers in the UAW plants,” said Trone. “That’s not right. We stand with the UAW. We support them fully.”

The union said the strike is supported by 73% of its rank and file. In its new contract, the UAW hopes to unionize workers at electric vehicle battery factories.