Wages, benefits will improve under new Mack contract

July 20, 1998|By SHEILA HOTCHKIN

A three-year contract, negotiated by Mack Trucks and United Auto Workers, includes provisions to raise employees' annual incomes, improve their benefits and guarantee their contracts if another company buys out the producer of heavy-duty trucks.

The agreement was approved by more than 67 percent of union members voting at ratification meetings over the weekend, according to a release from United Auto Workers. It became effective Monday.

"This new agreement represents significant progress in job and income security for UAW-Mack workers," said union Vice President Jack Laskowski, who congratulated the negotiating team and union members, "for their support and solidarity."

The following highlights of the agreement were released by United Auto Workers to union members prior to last weekend's vote:

  • -- Workers' earnings will increase each year of the contract, with new hires ineligible for any increases for the length of the contract.
  • -- Most workers will receive one payment at the end of each of the three years - 3 percent of their qualified earnings during that year.
  • -- Certain workers, including those performing skilled trades in Hagerstown, will receive a 3 percent raise in their base pay for the second year, in place of that year's lump sum payment.
  • -- Workers hired into nonskilled classifications after the contract's ratification must work for three years to achieve the base wage in effect at the end of the previous contract. They will start at 70 percent of the base wage in their first year, increasing to 80 percent for the second and 90 percent for the third.
  • -- The contract also creates a new, voluntary 401(k) savings plan, effective Jan. 1, 1999.
  • -- Health care - including coverage for dental care, vision care, prescription drugs, and psychiatric and substance abuse - was expanded under the new contract. In the workplace, special attention will be paid to ergonomic training.
  • -- The company's pension plan also was improved for current and future retirees under the new contract. After Jan. 1, the basic Life Income Benefit rate will be raised $1.50 to bring monthly retirement income to a total of $33.40 for each year of employment.

Different amounts would apply to the Life Income Benefit for those retiring after 60 and those under the "30-and-Out" plan.


In addition, anyone retiring from June 1, 1998 on would receive three $2,000 lump-sum payments, made annually starting on Oct. 1, 1999.

-- The contract requires that if Mack Trucks is sold, the buyer must assume the current collective bargaining agreement as a condition of the sale. If there is a dispute over the language in the contract, the buyer must submit to arbitration and reach a consensus before the sale of the company can become final.

Mack Executive Vice President Samuel L. Torrence said that the company began working on building its relationship with the union over a year ago in anticipation of the contract negotiations. "We really wanted to solidify the kids of directions we were moving in," he said.

In March of last year, the two sides committed to negotiating a win-win contract for both sides, Torrence said.

"I think that's common among progressive companies," he said.

Local union officials refused to comment on the contract.

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