Strike option looming over Freightliner

Strike option looming over Freightliner



Workers have overwhelmingly authorized union leaders to call for a strike at Daimler Trucks North America’s Parts and Components Plant in Gastonia, if contract negotiations fail, according to a post on the United Auto Workers Local 5286 Web site Thursday.

And employees of DTNA’s Freightliner Truck Manufacturing Plant in Mount Holly represented by the UAW Local 5285 could vote on a similar measure this weekend, according to union officials.

The authorization vote does not mean local workers will strike, said Gary Casteel, director of the UAW’s District 8. The vote is a common procedural step that could lead to more drastic action should negotiations break down on pivotal issues.

“We’re a long way from striking,” Casteel said. “It’s kind of a strategic call. It’s really a formality.”

The bargaining committee now has authorization from members in Gastonia to call for a strike. But before anyone pickets outside DTNA plants in Gaston County, Casteel said he would have to make a recommendation to the UAW president. The International UAW would have to sanction the strike. And the local membership would have to vote to approve the strike.

Casteel said the strike authorization isn’t necessarily an indication that negotiations are failing. Then again, he said, “If we were all happy with the company’s proposal and knew there wasn’t any way we’d end up striking,” then this step wouldn’t be necessary.

In the past, the bargaining committee has requested the strike authorization before negotiations began, just to get it out of the way, Casteel said. Negotiations between DTNA officials and union leaders representing plants in Gastonia, Mount Holly and Cleveland, N.C., began March 3.

With the current three-year labor contracts set to expire April 2 in Mount Holly and April 9 in Gastonia, Casteel said the bargaining committee can’t afford to wait until the last minute to get authorization from members.

Casteel said negotiations are still in progress. The bargaining committee is trying to find agreement on a number of issues, he said, but it only takes one unresolved conflict to create an impasse.

“We’re still working on it,” Casteel said. “You don’t have a deal until you have a deal in total.”

DTNA spokeswoman Maria McCullough said the strike authorization “does not impact the negotiations process at this point.”

“We are aware of the union’s standard protocol to gain strike authorization from their membership prior to the expiration of a contract,” McCullough said. “Other details of negotiations between the parties remain confidential.”

Job security is the biggest concern for thousands of workers at DTNA plants in North Carolina, including many who were laid off from 2007-’09 amid a historic decline in the market for medium- and heavy-duty trucks. Local workers have also lost jobs as DTNA has shifted production to plants in Mexico to cut costs.

The UAW prevailed this year in an arbitration case that found DTNA in violation of its current labor agreement for outsourcing production to Mexico, while laying off about 900 workers in Mount Holly in 2008 and ’09. Since March 2007, DTNA has laid off about 1,371 workers in Mount Holly and 498 in Gastonia.

You can reach Business Editor Daniel Jackson at 704-869-1833.

Seniority Lists
Recent Posts!
Bargaining Committee

Mike Herron
Tim Stannard
Zone at Large – 1st
Danny Taylor
Zone at Large – 2nd
Mark Wilkerson
Joe McClure
Chad Poynor
Steve Roberts
Derek Lewis
Bill Cundiff
Kirk Zebbs
Don Numinen
Jay Minella
Danny Bragg
Chris Hill
Rashad Thomas
Keith Oswald
Chris Brown

1853 Officers

Tim Stannard
Mike Herron
Vice President
Darrell DeJean
Financial Secretary
Mark Wunderlin
Recording Secretary
Peggy Mullins
Trustee (3)
Jay Lowe
Dave Clements
Dave Spare
Sgt. at Arms
David C Spare
Ashley Holloway
E-Board at Large (2)
David Ryder
Steve Roberts
GM Unit Chair
Mike Herron
Leadec Unit Chair
Larry Poole
Ryder Unit Chair
Patrick Linck
AFV Unit Chair
Neil Osborne
Retiree Chair
Mike Martinez

Get Text Alerts


*Standard text messaging rates may apply from your carrier