After workers overwhelmingly rejected the contract, the UAW went on strike against Mack Truck

Thousands of unionized workers at Mack Drugs walked off the job Monday, overwhelmingly rejecting a proposed five-year contract.

The contract, which covers about 4,000 workers in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Florida, was rejected by 73 percent of the vote. The United Auto Workers announced Late Sunday. It would have raised wages by 20 percent — starting with a 10 percent raise in the first year — as well as frozen health insurance premiums for the life of the contract.

“The members have spoken, and as the highest authority in our union, they have the final word,” UAW President Shawn Fine said in the strike announcement.

He said the union was determined to reach an agreement, but “clearly we’re not there yet.” Fine said many other topics are at issue, including rules related to wages, work schedules, benefits and health and safety.

Mac president Stephen Roy said the company was “surprised and disappointed” by the vote, and union representatives called the tentative deal “historic” when it was announced on Oct. 2.

“We are committed to the collective bargaining process and are confident we can reach an agreement that provides competitive wages and benefits to our employees and their families, while protecting our future as a competitive company and sustainable long-term employer,” said Roy.

In Sunday’s bargaining update, the company appeared to be pulling back relative to other automakers. “Given other negotiations in the news, it’s important to emphasize that Mack’s market, business and competitors are very different from those of passenger car manufacturers,” the company said.

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Ford did not expand the UAW strike, citing progress in negotiations with GM

The UAW has been holding targeted strikes since September 15 against the Big Three automakers: General Motors, Ford and Chrysler parent company Stellandis. Recent developments in those negotiations may have raised expectations for unionized workers at Mac, as Ford agreed to raise its own wages. It will increase to 23 percent in four years. That offer, along with a separate offer from GM that brought battery manufacturing facilities under a national union contract, was enough to prevent the union from expanding the strikes, but not enough to end them.

Mack is best known for its semi trucks, although it also has a defense division that makes construction equipment, fire trucks and military-grade construction vehicles. It is owned by Swedish manufacturer Volvo.

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