UAW, Mack at impasse over strike | XPO's new in-house OTR division

Trucking news and briefs for Monday, Oct. 30, 2023:

UAW strike continues at Mack

There's no end in sight for a work stoppage at Mack Trucks' assembly sites in three states as both sides failed to reach an agreement last week and no additional discussions have been scheduled.

Mack Trucks and United Auto Workers (UAW) negotiators reached tentative agreements last week on the four local agreements that were not ratified by UAW members Oct. 8, yet both sides remain at odds over economic demands at the master contract level that, Mack said via statement Thursday night, "continue to be unrealistic."

Meanwhile, the big three U.S. automakers -- Ford, GM and Stellantis -- have seemingly reached deals with UAW to potentially end six-week strikes at each company.

Per the terms of the tentative agreement with Mack, the average wage increase over five years would be 36%, with an average immediate wage increase for all covered employees of nearly 15%. For employees not yet at the top rate (nearly half the total workforce) the average increase over five years would be 55%, and the average immediate wage increase would be more than 20%. Most employees already at the top rate would receive an immediate wage increase of 10%, and up to 20% compounded over five years, even though company research shows that these employees are already above market rates, Mack Trucks said.

Premiums for the company’s healthcare coverage, which have not increased in more than six years despite a 66% increase in the company’s costs over the last decade, according to Mack Trucks, would remain unchanged for five more years.

The union continues to seek wage increases, holiday schedules, seniority, retirement and benefits, among other concessions.

Mack Trucks said Thursday, Oct. 26, that it stands by the economic terms of its Oct. 1 tentative agreement with the union, which UAW leadership endorsed and called a “record” contract for the heavy truck industry. Mack Trucks seemingly side-stepped a strike Oct. 1, reaching a tentative agreement with the UAW that its membership – 3,900 employees – ultimately shot down by 73%. Those workers went on strike a week later at Mack facilities in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Florida. --Jason Cannon

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[Related: UAW strike hits Mack Trucks]

XPO launches new in-house OTR truckload division

XPO last week announced the launch of an in-house, team driver, over-the-road operation -- part of the company’s previously announced strategy to insource third-party linehaul carrier miles to drive greater efficiency, expected cost savings and better service for customers.

Dubbed the Road Flex program, the initiative is already underway with sleeper teams running from bases in Dallas and Phoenix. The company expects to expand this operation to additional service centers in 2024. To support the program, the company said it is recruiting teams of long-haul drivers who will run dedicated routes between XPO facilities in trucks equipped with sleepers and other amenities.

A typical workweek for Road Flex team drivers will consist of five days on the road hauling XPO truckloads between XPO LTL sites where they will then be handled by LTL, followed by two days off. While schedules may occasionally vary based on network conditions, "XPO is committed to providing workplace flexibility and balance, along with industry-leading compensation and benefits," the company said. 

XPO has been in a post-pandemic makeover of its business. Last March it sold its intermodal business to STG Logistics for $710 million, a move that was in support of a broader plan that called for spinning off XPO's brokerage business, leaving the LTL business and brokerage as two separate, publicly traded companies.

[Related: XPO Connect delivers growth with a human touch]

Mack recalling certain LR refuse trucks over steering issue

Mack Trucks is recalling approximately 47 model year 2024 LR vehicles in which the fasteners that connect the power steering assist cylinder to the steering arm may be loose or missing.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration documents state that as a result, the power steering assist cylinder may separate from the steering arm, causing a loss of vehicle control and increasing the risk of a crash.

Dealers will inspect and tighten the steering gear fasteners and install a new cotter pin, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed Dec. 15. Owners can contact Mack customer service at 800-866-1177 with recall number SC0451. NHTSA’s recall number is 23V-713.