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WATCH NOW: Union strike begins at Volvo plant in Dublin
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WATCH NOW: Union strike begins at Volvo plant in Dublin

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UAW members from the Volvo Trucks North America plant in Dublin went on strike Monday after voting down a second attempt at a contract with the company, which employs just over 3,000 people. About 2,900 of them are unionized. Tonia Moxley/The Roanoke Times

DUBLIN — Blaring horns from vehicles streaming out of the Volvo Trucks North American plant at noon Monday announced the start of the promised United Auto Workers strike.

The union local’s approximately 2,900 members and the company are still at odds over a new contract, after unionized workers on Sunday overwhelmingly rejected the latest version.

Inside the union local building across from the plant, volunteers set up a lunch buffet for striking workers.

“We set it up so they can get fed and go” to the picket line, UAW Local President Matt Blandino said.

Blandino said he was not authorized to comment on the negotiations or why members voted down the most recent tentative agreement. He said negotiators from the wider union were working on those issues.

About a dozen members gathered outside the local building declined to comment. Some said they felt the action spoke for itself.

Melissa McDaniel, a new member who came to work at the plant’s paint building in February, was volunteering on the buffet. She said she’s been carrying the union message everywhere she goes, using her car as her sign. The back window read: “Beep Beep, Volvo is Cheap.”

While being committed to exploring all options for reaching an agreement, issues remain including wage increases, job security, wage progression, skilled trades, shift premium, holiday schedules, work schedules, health and safety, seniority, pension and 401(k), health care and prescription drug coverage and overtime, according to the UAW letter.

Meanwhile, the company released a statement Monday morning:

“It is difficult to understand this action,” said NRV Vice President and General Manager Franky Marchand. “UAW International, Regional, and Local leadership endorsed the tentative agreement, which provided significant economic improvements for all UAW-represented workers, and a package of benefits that is very competitive for our industry and region. We remain committed to the collective bargaining process, and we are confident that we will ultimately arrive at a mutually beneficial agreement.”

Local 2069 posted results Sunday night that indicated 90% voted no on both common language and hourly language in the contract proposal. On salary language, 91% voted no, according to the union. No vote totals were released, just percentages.

The previous contract, reached in 2016, was to have expired in mid-March. Volvo Trucks said negotiations began Feb. 8.

Bargaining continued until unionized workers went on strike from April 17 to 30. They returned to work as negotiations resumed.

On May 16, UAW members overwhelmingly rejected a proposed contract.

The company announced May 22 that it had reached another tentative agreement on a six-year contract with the union, which was the subject of Sunday’s vote and rejection.

Volvo Trucks is one of the largest private-sector employers in this region of Southwest Virginia, with approximately 3,300 employees.

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