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The United Auto Workers Reaches Settlement With Daimler, Tenative Contract Would Bring Profit Sharing and Cost of Living Protections

by | April 29, 2024

The United Auto Workers reaches settlement on tentative contract with profit sharing and cost-of-living protection for hundreds of Daimler workers in the South as critical vote on UAW representation at a big Mercedes-Benz factory in Alabama approaches. 

Mercedes-Benz Plant Workers Vance Alabama

Workers at the Mercedes plant in Alabama assemble a new EV. The plant is expected to be the second to have a vote on the UAW organizing drive.

The United Auto Workers has chalked up another dramatic victory in the Southern United States by securing a lucrative, tentative agreement for some 7,400 workers, who build trucks and busses in plants across North Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee for Daimler. The UAW members employed by Daimler Truck have a tentative, four-year pact, which includes a 25% pay increase, cost of living protection, and profit sharing, as the UAW moves towards a crucial vote at a Mercedes-Benz plant in Vance, Alabama.  The German truck and automotive giants were part of the same enterprise for the better part of a century but separated in 2021 and now operate independently save for sharing some research on electric and autonomous vehicles. 

Nonetheless, the union’s success in negotiating a new four-year contract is bound to reverberate among the 5,000 employees at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Alabama who will vote May 13 to 17 on whether they want to be represented by the UAW. Daimler Truck employees will begin to vote on the new tentative contract next week, according to the UAW. It is also likely to influence the UAW’s future negotiations with Volkswagen of America where employees at VOA’s plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee recently voted for union representation, opening the door for discussions on a new labor pact. 

UAW’s Fain hails agreement. 

Fain speaks about organizing and lawsuits

UAW President Shawn Fain

UAW President Shawn Fain said during a Facebook live appearance the tentative contract, which covers workers at Daimler’s truck and bus plants in North Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee, will also end the multi-tiered wage schedule in all three plants. The proposed contracts also will boost the pay of the lowest-paid workers by as much as $8 per hour.  Fain said that the workers, assuming they ratify the agreement, would receive a minimum of 25% general wage increases over four years. 

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

Fain added the lowest-paid workers at Thomas Built Bus will see raises of over $8 an hour. Some TBB skilled trades members will get an over $17 an hour raise or a raise of more than 60% raise, Fain said.  

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

“We said the company doesn’t get to keep all the profits while the workers who build the product get crumbs. 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.” Fain added.   

“We 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,” Fain added.   

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Daimler satisfied with tentative agreement. 

Mercedes-Benz Plant Vance Alabama

The Mercedes-Benz plant in Vance, Alabama.

“Daimler Truck North America and the United Auto Workers have tentatively agreed to new collective bargaining agreements covering approximately 7,400 employees at our manufacturing and component facilities in High Point, N.C. (Thomas Built Buses), Mount Holly Truck Manufacturing Plant, Cleveland Truck Manufacturing Plant, Gastonia Parts Plant, Atlanta Parts Distribution Center, and Memphis Parts Distribution Center,” the company said in a statement after the tentative agreement was announced.  The UAW members at these locations will now be asked to vote on the new contracts, and we hope to finalize them soon, for the mutual benefit of all parties,” the company said in a statement. 

The tentative, last-minute settlement averts what seemed like an almost certain walkout by the union, which has campaigned for almost two months prior to the expiration of the old contract to prepare Daimler employees for a strike.  The union succeeded in organizing the truck and bus plants more than 20 years ago after they had gone through a long succession of management and ownership changes. The conservative National Right to Work Committee led a campaign to decertify union recognition in 2006, but the effort was defeated by a two-to-one margin the UAW. 

The tentative agreement will serve as a useful talking point for union supporters at the Mercedes-Benz plant where management has been trying to resist the UAW campaign. 

 

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