Daimler Truck Workers in North Carolina Are Poised to Strike

Workers who make trucks and buses for Daimler Truck in North Carolina appeared poised to strike on Friday as contract talks remained deadlocked.

A contract covering 7,000 Daimler employees represented by the United Automobile Workers will expire at the end of Friday. The German company has five factories in North Carolina, where it builds Freightliner and Western Star trucks, Thomas Built buses, and various components.

A strike, which appeared likely barring a last-minute breakthrough, would open another front in the U.A.W.’s campaign to expand its power in Southern states where unions have long been weak.

The U.A.W. scored a significant victory this month when workers at Volkswagen’s factory in Chattanooga, Tenn., voted to be represented by the union. Workers at a Mercedes-Benz factory in Alabama will vote on whether to unionize in mid-May.

Workers at Daimler Truck, which split from Mercedes-Benz in 2021, have been represented by the U.A.W. for several decades. The union has adopted a more assertive stance after winning the biggest pay increases in decades for workers at Ford Motor, General Motors and Stellantis, the owner of Jeep, Chrysler and Ram, after strikes at the three companies last year.

A favorable contract for Daimler workers would add momentum to the U.A.W.’s drive to organize U.S. auto factories, including at companies like Toyota and Tesla.

In addition to pay increases and better benefits, the Daimler Truck workers say they are seeking more job security after the company moved some production to Mexico.

The negotiations made some progress this week after Daimler agreed to a profit-sharing plan for workers, according to the union. But the two sides remained far apart on other issues, including pay, automatic cost-of-living increases and health benefits, the union said.

Workers will go on strike, the U.A.W. said, “unless we get the historic deal we are demanding.”

Daimler said in a statement that it was engaged in good-faith negotiations “for a new contract that will benefit all parties and allow Daimler Truck North America to continue delivering the products that enable our customers to keep the world moving.”

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