From the July-August 2021 issue of News & Letters
UAW workers on June 7 resumed their strike at the Volvo Truck Plant in Dublin, Va., the day after rejecting for the second time the tentative agreement that Local 2069 Bargaining Committee presented to them. The vote to reject, like the vote on May 16 to strike, was by more than 90%.
WORKERS DESPISE TWO-TIER SYSTEM
Little wonder the workers were so united, when both tentative contracts would have maintained the hated permanent two-tier wage system that currently freezes workers with less than 15 years seniority at around 70% of the full wage.
Local 2069 officials also included for ratification by its 3,300 members Volvo’s insistence, while a pandemic is still ongoing, on raising healthcare out-of-pocket payouts to $2,000/$4,000. The company may count on the fact that the worldwide chip shortage, which has intermittently forced vehicle production shutdowns across the auto and truck industry, could work in its favor.
RESISTANCE IN SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA
If Volvo expected to better control its workforce and avoid Black worker resistance by choosing to open its truck plant nearly 40 years ago in Pulaski County, with a Black population under 6%, it must have been disappointed. Ford absorbed Volvo in 1997, then unloaded it to the Chinese company Zhejiang Geely Holding Group in 2010.
UAW bureaucrats—who have over the years deflected worker criticism and obstructed international solidarity by blaming Japanese workers, and lately Chinese workers—have proved in Dublin, Va., that they are willing to make deals as easily with Chinese capitalists as with nominally U.S. capitalists.
UAW workers continuing their renewed strike have forced Volvo Truck back to the bargaining table at the end of June. Time will tell if the company dares to make yet another offer that workers would emphatically reject.
—Former auto worker