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Mack, UAW reach tentative contract

October 03, 2004|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Mack Trucks Inc. and United Auto Workers officials were able to avert a strike by continuing negotiations through the contract's normal expiration period to reach a tentative three-year contract, Mack officials said Saturday.

"It's obviously a very good thing for both the company and the union to reach a tentative agreement and now the next step is ratification," Mack spokesman Bob Martin said.

One of Washington County's largest employers, Mack's powertrain facility off Pennsylvania Avenue north of Hagerstown had 1,415 employees as of July 15, a company spokesman said at the time. Production workers at Mack earn approximately $23 an hour.

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UAW Local 171 represents approximately 1,000 machinists and assembly workers at the local plant, said Donnie Myers, vice president of UAW Local 171. UAW Local 1247 represents about 100 secretaries and engineers who work at the local plant, he said. The agreement includes both unions.

The last time there was a strike at the local plant was in 1984, Myers said.

Reaching an agreement is good, Myers said. At times Friday night, as many as 20 people were at the union hall anxiously awaiting word from negotiators in King of Prussia, Pa., near Philadelphia, and preparing for the possibility of a strike, Myers said.

"We was ready either way," Myers said.

The two sides began a round of negotiations Friday morning and talked through the night until reaching an agreement between 10:30 and 11 a.m. Saturday, Martin said.

The previous three-year contract was set to expire at 11:59 p.m. Friday.

"They didn't shut down and the company will continue to operate," Martin said.

Myers said he did not know details of the tentative agreement.

A date had not been set yet for union members to decide whether to ratify the tentative agreement, Myers said.

Officials with both sides have not been saying what the sticking points were in negotiating a new contract.

Besides the two local unions, the agreement also includes UAW Local 2301 in Baltimore; Local 472 in Atlanta; and Local 677, representing workers in Allentown, Pa., Macungie, Pa., and Middletown, Pa., according to a prepared statement from Mack.

In total, the tentative agreement covers approximately 2,500 UAW workers for Mack, according to the statement.

Workers at the Macungie plant assemble vocational trucks such as dump and refuse trucks, Martin said.

Mack parts distribution centers are in Baltimore and Atlanta.

A remanufacturing center, which rebuilds engines and other components, is in Middletown, Martin said.

Mack's world headquarters and engineering, development and test center are in Allentown, he said.

Mack is owned by The Volvo Group.

A year ago, AB Volvo announced its North American Volvo Powertrain production operations would be at the Hagerstown plant.

A transformation celebration at the plant to recognize construction of an engine development lab and manufacturing expansion are scheduled for Friday. Gov. Robert Ehrlich is expected to attend.

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