Detroit Free Press: Marick Masters on Volvo UAW strike

Striking union workers at a Volvo truck plant in southwestern Virginia are scheduled to vote on a tentative agreement with the company later this week. But so far, finalizing a contract for the 2,900 UAW-represented workers at what Volvo says is its largest truck manufacturing facility in the world has proven challenging. Workers at the plant in Dublin, about 20 miles from the campus of Virginia Tech, have been asked to sign off on an agreement twice before in recent months but have overwhelmingly rejected those deals. This is the second strike during the negotiations, and workers have been on the picket line this time since early June. Marick Masters, a Wayne State University business professor who specializes in labor issues, said the failure to secure passage of previous agreements likely points to a schism between the membership and the union’s international leadership. The corruption scandal, which highlighted the perks enjoyed by some former union leaders, has been in the news for years and that has an effect, Masters said. “This is not a common everyday occurrence by any stretch of the imagination,” Masters said of workers rejecting two contract proposals. He said it reflects a disconnect between leadership and what the workers want. Even if they’re ultimately happy with the end product, workers might reject a deal if they don’t like how the process played out. He said the union will need to work to improve the lines of communication and boost transparency to include all aspects of union activities. “Workers don’t have much confidence in the people who are negotiating on behalf of the union,” Masters said.

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