Mack says UAW's new contract demands 'surprising' and 'unrealistic'

Mack bulldog hood ornament
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The union representing striking workers at Mack Trucks plants in three states is making new contract demands the company calls "unrealistic".

Mack issued a statement late last week that said the United Auto Workers presented the company with new contract demands that appear to undo months of previous bargaining talks.

The two sides were scheduled to resume negotiations today and continue through Thursday.

Some 3,900 workers at Mack plants in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Florida went on strike Oct. 9 after rejecting a tentative contract agreement between the company and the union reached on Oct. 1.

Mack's statement said:

After previously agreeing to what the UAW referred to as a “record” tentative agreement with Mack Trucks, United Auto Workers leadership today presented the company with a surprising new list of unreasonable economic demands, seemingly returning to day one of negotiations, and ignoring three months of good faith bargaining between the parties.

Given the UAW’s stated demands, Mack advised the union that the company looks forward to returning to the bargaining table on Monday and hopes the UAW leadership makes more realistic proposals.

“Unfortunately, the new UAW economic demands are completely unrealistic,” said Mack President Stephen Roy. “We’ve already shown that we’re prepared to provide our employees with significantly improved wages, but we are not prepared to jeopardize the company.”

The UAW's demands include a five-year contract that covers wage increases, reinstatement of cost of living adjustments, no concessions on healthcare costs, shortening of wage progression to full pay, and increases in 401K and pension payments. The union is also asking for additional paid time off and an increase in benefits for retirees.

The tentative agreement reached Oct. 1 but rejected by 73% of Mack's UAW members included a 10% general wage increase in the first year for all employees, a compounded 20% increase to general wages over five years, and a guarantee of no increases in health insurance premiums through the term of the five-year contract. The union said among the issues that remain unresolved are wage increases, holiday schedules, seniority, retirement, and benefits. 

The strike at Mack's plants is occurring as the 34,000 UAW members remain on strike for the fifth week at six vehicle assembly plants and 38 parts distribution warehouses of the big three American automakers.