Machinists, Painters strike Daimler Trucks

Day one on strike at Daimler: Machinists Local 1005 members Todd Barnes, Jeff Bowes, Mike Brandt, Mike Coelho, and Terry Weese picket outside a plant gate six to noon July 1.
DAY ONE ON STRIKE AT DAIMLER: Machinists Local 1005 members Todd Barnes, Jeff Bowes, Mike Brandt, Mike Coelho, and Terry Weese picket outside a plant gate six to noon July 1.

By DON McINTOSH, Associate Editor

Members of Machinists Lodge 1005 voted down a contract offer from Daimler Trucks North America and went on strike at the company’s Portland truck plant 12:01 a.m. July 1. The 520 machinists were joined on strike later in the day by 68 members of Sign Painters and Paint Makers Local 1094. Two other union groups at the plant —117 members of Teamsters Local 305 and 19 members in Service Employees Local 49 — accepted company offers, but won’t be crossing picket lines.

The plant, located in the Swan Island Industrial Park, manufactures heavy-duty Western Star brand trucks used in mining, logging, oil fields and construction. Roughly 725 union-represented workers were turning out 26 trucks a day operating one shift. But they’ve been falling behind economically while the company prospered.

About 415 Machinists Local 1005 members packed a conference room at Holiday Inn Portland Airport at 10 a.m., June 29, for their first glimpse of the company’s “last, best, and final” offer. Bargaining hadn’t wrapped up until 2:55 a.m. that morning, so members had no chance to review the contract beforehand.

 

“The concession stand is closed”

In the weeks leading up to their contract’s June 28 expiration, Lodge 1005 members had worn union T-shirts with the slogan, “The concession stand is closed.” Now they listened as the union bargaining team explained that the company’s offer would increase wages $1.30 an hour over three years, but would also increase employee health care premiums as much as $45 a month, initiate a more restrictive absenteeism policy, and end the promise of post-65 retiree health benefits for employees who still had that coming. Each of those details drew howls from members.

Machinists District Lodge W24 Business Representative Joe Kear said this was his fifth time negotiating at the truck plant, and that it has been getting rougher each time, as the company tries to squeeze more out of workers.

Talks began June 10, but the union didn’t hear the company’s economic proposal until June 24.

Daimler started off proposing a $4-an-hour pay cut over three years — to make up for additional pension contributions it’s required to make. Daimler is the biggest employer in the Automotive Machinists Pension Trust, a multi-employer pension plan for companies that employ Machinists in Oregon and Washington. The trust had major losses in the financial crash that began in 2008, and participating employers are legally obligated to pay extra to make up the shortfall. Daimler’s rehabilitation surcharge will reach $5.58 an hour by 2015 — and that’s in addition to its regular $4.47-per-hour pension contribution.

The financial crisis may have caused the pension shortfall, but past decisions by Daimler made it worse. Fifteen years ago, the Portland plant had over 2,000 production workers; today there are 725. By shifting production to Mexico and North and South Carolina, Daimler caused the pension to become top-heavy, with relatively few active employees, and many retirees and inactive former employees.

And the company isn’t the only one feeling the pain of the pension losses. The losses forced pension trustees to cut the rate at which benefits accrue, and eliminate supplemental disability coverage and a subsidized early retirement benefit.

The pension surcharge pertained only to the machinists, but Kear said the four unions stood together throughout the joint bargaining. The pay and health care premium increases were the same in all four contracts, which were voted on separately.

 

Overdue for a raise

Machinists and Painters members determined that the proposed wage increases — 60 cents, 40 cents, and 30 cents — weren’t enough, coming after a four-year wage freeze.

And many workers felt they never really caught up after agreeing to wage concessions in 2001 under company threat of plant closure. Wages were $19.05 then, and are $23.25 today.

Money is not the bottom line. Personal pride is.”

Workers also said they want to share the economic benefits of increased productivity — not just the costs. Since a system of “lean” manufacturing and continuous improvement was introduced several years ago, productivity at the plant has increased 25 percent. The same number of trucks are produced, but with 25 percent fewer workers.

Layoffs —  like the 250 workers let go March 1, have swept the assembly line of younger members. Those who remain take retirement benefits very seriously. When during the contract discussion one Lodge 1005 member asked how many in the room were 50 or over, at least half the hands shot up.

Past concessions have created three tiers of retiree health benefits: New hires have no company-paid health benefits when they retire; a previous group gets health benefits until they turn 65 and become eligible for Medicare; the oldest group, numbering 111, gets that, plus supplemental insurance after they turn 65. Eliminating the post-65 coverage was like salt in a paper cut, one worker told the Labor Press.

Despite its flaws, Lodge 1005’s bargaining team recommended approving Daimler’s offer, saying at the time that it was the best they expected to see from the company. But they weren’t surprised at the outcome.

Contract VoteLodge 1005 members turned down the company’s offer in a 102 to 309 vote, and then voted to strike by an even greater margin, 359 to 48.

“Money is not the bottom line,” said one Lodge 1005 member. “Personal pride is.”

Of course, money and personal pride are linked. Workers know truck sales are booming and quarterly profits are increasing. Yet their wages have been frozen. Every day to get to work, they go through the employee entrance, passing knee-high weeds by the employee parking lot and crossing railroad tracks. Three years after Lodge 1005 bargained into its union contract a company commitment to improve ventilation in malodorous restrooms, that hasn’t happened. Meanwhile, company managers drive Mercedes Benzes into separate parking lots through landscaping maintained by Local 49 members. They eat in separate areas, and have separate, cleaner, restrooms.  To take any concession from an employer, in that context, is a bitter pill.

Pickets began Sunday at midnight, and continue 24 hours a day at three entrances to the truck plant, as well as a fourth location where pre-delivery inspections are performed.

16 Comments on Machinists, Painters strike Daimler Trucks

  1. My question is they say we have no medical benefits but yet they are taking cost sharing out of our pay checks……So ? where is our money going?????????????

  2. “Wages were $19.05 then, and are $23.25 today.” If wages kept pace with inflation, they would be $25.12 now. If they kept pace with increased productivity, they would be $31.27.

    Just another instance of companies stealing from workers. Disgusting.

  3. When will the leaders in Germany take over and get rid of the piss-poor management that try to run the plant and have failed? They have run Western Star into the ground and sacrificed the quality and respect of the most inportent people in the world, the CUSTOMER. We at the Portland truck plant have put years of our lives into building the best trucks on the market today. We have years of experience [most 20- to 30-years], putting our hearts into making our customers happy with our product. The level of professional skill and heart that goes into each truck produced is shown by the amount of repeat costomers we have. The reason repeat costomers are so important is based on the market for the type of trucks we make. It is smaller than the small ease to make cross coutry trucks used in most all other fields of trucking. Western Star are the big boys of trucks and are custom built, an even more rarely seen thing in the trucking world today. We have shown a level of pride that few could ever show for thier job. The most important thing that goes into making a truck is not parts, it’s pride and loyalty for the brand, Western Star. It is a shame the management has made the choice to install an us-against-them mentality in the Portland plant instead of let’s-be-on-the-same-team and build great trucks. So in order to go forward for the last 6 years, we have had to love our job but dislike who we work for. And now with them trying to take away all we have worked so hard for, it is like stepping on our pride, and pride is ALL that is selling trucks in the Portland truck plant. WE CAN NOT LET THEM TAKE THAT AWAY. BY GIVING UP ANYTHING. FOR WITHOUT PRIDE THE PLANT WILL FAIL. So piss on the management. We have seen them come and go over the years and it is my wish this bunch will go soon, as they are not in this for the betterment of the job the plant or our customers or the people they work for in Germany. I am proud of the ladies and gentlemen who have taken a stand to strike for their job and their pride today. THEY ARE THE BEST TRUCK BUILDERS IN AMRICA. Even if management would never say it, I will. We build the trucks, not the management, and we are the bread and butter of that plant. It is time they rediscover that great truth. I love my job but hate the management. Their greed is the only thing that shows they have NO pride in themself or their job. Keep up the FIGHT, people, bring them to the table on thier knees.

    • Delbert: I couldn’t have said it any better! If they take away our pride, what do we have left! How wonderful it would be to be able to look forward to going to work, once and for all!

    • thanks for your reply Dave i have posted another letter down below this one i would like to get out to all the brothers and sisters on the picket line if thier is a way to make copys and hand out at the picket lines and at the meeting wensday i think it has teeth and could help in keeping resolve up in our fight I am posting on facebook and other web sites and i would like it if everybody else does too , we need to get the call out for as many allys as we cam muster . really i would like to dump a millon copys on the plant too just for management

  4. I respectfully agree in part with some of the points put forward by my union brothers but they in my opinion, fail to fully acknowledge the real scenario here…see here for details.

    Increased profit and ‘accelerate spending cuts’ is their mandate through 2014 so it stands to reason that labor costs are part of those ‘spending cuts.’ With those facts in mind, we know the direction that they are heading. I think it is safe to say that we are building a product that is more labor intensive than most other vehicles currently produced by Daimler, and under conditions that are less ‘worker friendly’ than other Daimler plants currently in operation in the US.

    I believe that we have proven without a doubt that we are a loyal group, and we have bent over backwards in the past to accommodate management claims of lack of orders,loss of our jobs to foreign workers(Mexico),and market fluctuation. That said, and regardless of what offered pittance they insult us with, we will stand our ground on this one.

    I will echo the sentiments of some of my brothers, and agree that this is as much about pride as it is about a fair compensatory package. With what we have to work with, we have overcome adversity and have continued to produce a quality product, evident in current increased sales. It is time for management to acknowledge our loyalty and sacrifice so that we can all get on with the business at hand. In solidarity…

  5. i completely agree with my fellow brothers and would like to point out one thing we might of missed , the company has saved millons of dollers in the last few years in labor costs and in the spending cuts . a great deal of that money has come from our pay checks and benefits . in each contract they have slice a bigger and bigger chunk of it away and they have gave back nothing in return but empty promises and lies . they have not put a dime back into the company not one upgrade or any new tools , the place is completely falling apart and many of the cranes are unsafe . what they have spent and wasted money on is $9 millon in these last two years on LIGHT HOUSE or lean mannufactureing. that is we have had a stop watch and camera on each and every member in the shop 8 hours a day counting every 10seconds to see if we are doing something called vallue added work ,trying to cut us to the bare bone , they have done this throughout the plant over and over , and is just one of the major reasons for people needing time off and the cause of poor moral and loss of trust in the company. who could stand to have a group of people hovering over you well your trying to do your job . these people came from out of state and have no thought or care of how our job is done or what it takes and most of them have never pulled a wrench , myself i called it Inferuiting . and these people are payed to cut and cut our time and condense our jobs to near inpossible , they never give any time back or help make it run smooth NEVER . I feel that money would of been better put into the plant and the people who work here at western star . now to the MAIN POINT the management of this plant have saved millons of dollers off our blood ,sweat . BUT NONE OF ALL THAT SAVEINGS GO BACK INTO THE PLANT IT DON’T EVEN GO BACK TO GERMANY ALL THE MONEY THEY GET FROM ALL THIER COST SAVEING AND ALL THEY WELL CUT AND STRIP FROM US IN THE CONTRACT WELL GO INTO THIS MANAGEMENTS POCKETS IT WELL BE THIER BIG FAT RAISE AND NEW CARS AND JUST ANOTHER BIG LAUGH FOR THEM AT US . THEY ARE UNABLE TO EQUATE THAT THIS IS STRIPING US OF OUR PRIDE.AND THAT WE SHOULD BE HAPPY AND BEND OVER AND STILL BUILD GREAT TRUCKS ??? WE CAN BUILD FAIR TRUCKS WITH OUT PRIDE BUT IT TAKES PRIDE IN OUR JOB AND OUR SELFS TO BUILD GREAT TRUCKS . this is a bad practice in any work place and bad management . it is still my hope that GERMANY well take notice and recognize and remember they put this management in the plant to close it down in 2010 and now with it staying up and running here in portland that they need NEW management to run it like it is staying open and being a competitor in the trucking world into the future. with that i say stick together hand in hand STAY THE PATH BROTHERS AND SISTERS FIGHT FOR YOU FUTURE YOUR SOLIDARITY WELL WIN THE DAY

  6. Don’t forget…. When our plant manager was asked just a couple of weeks ago if he would be willing to take a substantial economic cut he told us face-to-face, “NO!”

  7. We work for a bunch of crooks. Look at the timeline of events since the 2001 pay cuts. $2.00 per hr and medical co pays. Co pays which keep going up. Look at all the tax breaks they’ve gotten. In 2008 they flat out lied to all the hardworking loyal employees, saying they were going to close. They told us 22 months in advance, so they hoped to scare us. That was economic terrorism. They hijacked the state too when they were found guilty in Multnomah County for the fast one they pulled when bought Western Star. $220 million in punitive damages that were erased from the state after they reversed their decision to stay open. What? They never were going to close, because Portland truck builders have always made this company millions! Liars! Economic terrorists! And yes, Delbert, you’re right: This is the worst management I remember in 29 years. The old school management knew how the trucks were built. They knew the people. They had respect for you up til the day you retired. We now have job scared puppets instead. There are many more scams that they done but it would take too long to list them. Go to oregonlive.com and search Daimler. There are over 1,000 stories on them. See for yourself. No, it’s time to fight to the finish or its not worth it to work there. NO CONCESSIONS! Stay strong and remember, it’s all of us together. We not even asking for much compared to the 25 percent increase in productivity! Hell, we’ll split it — 12.5 percent raise! And remember also, we have no control on their bad business decisions. SOLIDARITY!

  8. Stay strong Portland. I hope it all works out for you in these tough times. You guys and gals have my prayers from LOCAL 5285 in Mt. Holly, NC. GIVE EM’ HELL BOYS

  9. Hello my brothers and sisters of 1005 , Here we are starting our third week of the War [strike] and make no bones about it is war .as it is for the management as they see us as the enemy and we must do the same , they have no regard for us and their tactics have not changed they keep telling us they are not changing anything or offering anything better take it or leave it , their arrogates is unwavering and refuse to use any kind of tact or subtlety and show no respect to our negotiating committee or us the truck builders this is unacceptable , they have taken this to as low of level as it can be taken , They ask why they must be Subtle in these talks ?? why should they be subtle ?? Real Men know why ,Because lack of subtlety turn competitors into enemy’s and enemy’s into fanatics , witch is how they think and act they have turned into FANATICS , they don’t care period . they don’t care about [ we or us ] the people that build great trucks they don’t care about the company hell they even don’t even show no care about our costumers how can you fight such reckless hate and greed, their only care is for how much they can fill their pockets with money and power off our blood , their just plan Greedy Baster’s they just don’t care , Their is a answer to this as my Daddy us to say. Then I well make you care , and that is what we are going to have to do. MAKE THEM CARE , we have tried talking nice now it is time to take the belt off and beat some since’s into them and make them CARE, we the people on the line picketing have been doing a good job and we can take it up another notch or two , we are the warriors and fighters of this battle it is our fight it is our part to stand firm and tight and together unwavering , TIME is on our side , we have won the first part of this fight already the company did not think we would hold together two days or two weeks with out folding , WE have proven them wrong we have hit the nitch in their armor , in two more weeks they well start worrying . we well see the biting and crying like a animal in a trap , as by that time all the trucks they have put ahead for well be gone , and the need to build trucks well be to high to look the other way , in the weeks that follow they well lose hope and it well be them that well bend and give in , ITS ALL ABOUT TIME AND IT IS ON OUR SIDE EVERY DAY THEY GET WEAKER AND WE GET STRONGER . by staying together standing strong on the line we well show our resolve , in this fight. It well be he who blinks first. the one that does well have the high ground .THIS IS HOW WE CAN WIN THE WAR , this is how we can help our negotiating committee and make it powerful , this is how we can SLAP them back to being subtle and wanting to work it out this is how we make them CARE,. WE all ask why we never see a lot of fire and fight up front in our negotiating committee that’s because it is their job to stay cool ,keep their heads on strait and think clear they have never lost their subtleys EVER and that’s their job to get us the best contract they can . it shows how great of people they are . I DELBERT GREER have the up most faith and respect for them . can you imagine trying to work out something with these company pukes hell I would have lost my cool a long time ago , so it may look like their not fired up but I can assure you we are in good hands . JOE ,VERN ,DAVE ,DWAIN AND BRUCE ARE DOING THIER JOB .I would put my life in Vern , Dave and Dwains hands and have as they have been close friends for 30 yrs down at the plant . it is our jobs to man the line we are the warriors and fighters in this fight. WE can show passion and determination to show we well not fade we well keep our ground and stay in the trenches and hold together strong as ONE . we all have our jobs in this fight this is ours. again this well drive the company to the table on their knees and make so much easer for our negotiating committee to reach a fair and binding contract , lets hold the line for them so they can work for us , together we stand divided we well fall , IM IN THIS FIGHT TO WIN WE ALL MUST FEEL THIS WAY . No more paul bull shit no more management bull shit no more company bull shit , this is OUR truck plant lets take it back , lets take our pride back ,LETS SHOW THE MANAGEMENT WHO THE TRUE LORDS OF THE TRUCK PLANT ARE. so we can build the best trucks in the world feeling good about it , that’s not asking to much its just FAIR , AGAIN I AM PROUD OF YOU ALL AND PROUD TO WALK THE PICKET LINE WITH ALL OF YOU , PRIDE MAKE GREAT TRUCKS . LETS KICK THIER ASS . stay together brothers and sisters we well win the day . P.S. please copy and share this. hell hand it out at the up comeing meeting or on the picket line put it on your facebook tell the world of our fight as most dont read this page i am thinking . thanks your brother Delbert

  10. Have you all got you paper work from the company telling us all about their great Integrity lol lol dam that makes me laugh lol cant stop laughing lol sorry ok I am trying to get a grip lol crap I cant stop laughing lol lol I am crying lol lol o god lol . OK whoops ha ha ha ha OK IM DONE . why I am i laughing i’ll tell you – INTEGRITY means doing the right thing in a reliable way , its a personality trait we admire or a person with moral compass it literally means having wholeness of character ,and common honesty, DOES THIS SOUND LIKE ANYONE IN MANAGEMENT ???????? REALLY DOES IT ??? NO . Maybe in the old days but not now . My Dad would say are you trying to convince me or yourself ??? lol Paul and Management by no means has any Integrity not one blessed ounce of it. NONE , NADA . ZERO. THATS JUST THE PLAN TRUTH . YOU JUST CANT TRUST THEM .they lie . Paul and management are closer to Oedipus rex, or a sociopath or serial killers at the least neurotic liars with traits of nepotism and a lot of bad behaviors never thought of yet . so the fact their trying to cover their personality up with empty words like[ INTEGRITY ] IS A JOKE . again ha aha ha shame on you management you always try so hard to be something your not lol’ you can put lip stick on a pig but its still a pig . and the only thing they well get a kiss up from is other management pigs , you know really a little lip stick and a nice dress could help wayne it sure could not hurt , lol lol that’s just wrong lol ok people im glad we got that straiten out . keep your head in the battle and try not to think of their miss use of the word INTEGRITY I WOULD JUST DISREGAURD THIER LETTER OF IT , let them lie to them self’s WE know better . yours in solidarity brother Delbert

  11. SO far a Job well done people I would like to tell everyone that we are making a Huge diffrents in the strike , some time people don’t know what good is or how good it is. where in fact we NOW have the high ground , what I can see and smell is fear coming from the management their Stinking of it. they cant hide it .their showing it more everyday , I in my earlier days use to trap so I know how animals or [ management ] act that are trapped and in a corner , the first faze is disbelief and shock , we had them at this point by last Sunday , they are now in the second faze mad as hell and biting and chewing their leg , scratching crying and doing anything they can to get out of the trap , we have got them to this point it is showing by their actions and their deeds as pathetic as they are . by the end of next week or the one after . they well be going into the last faze where they well be hanging their heads and know their going to die [yaaaa] They well look like a wet wash rag hung over in defeat , and they well come to US with a much better altitude and I may add be ready to talk since’s to our negotiating committee . the things their saying and doing should be of no surprise their fighting for air , this is the time we put our foot on their neck and don’t let them up , hold them down till the fights plum out of them .We do this by holding together . Hell where not fighting for money or pride at this point where fight for what is fair and right for our family’s, our lively hood and our right to exist like human beings . WE ALL KNOW HOW THEY HAVE TREATED US IN THE LAST FEW YEARS .we know what we are fighting for .they are just fighting for greed and table scraps off our plate like Rats . Really we are at the point where we don’t have to be mad any more its time to set back and point and laugh and watch them making fools of them self’s , the worst and hardiest part is done for us we just have to kick back and watch them put on a show like their really going to make trucks and get cough up on orders with a scab crew that don’t know how to hold a wrench lol yeah lets see that lol lol . I well be just waiting to see them getting a full 28 trucks a day and see if [not] they drive and sell . LETS SEE IT, I WANT TO SEE IT , IT CAN NOT BE DONE . at this point it is the last BLUFF they have left . times running out for them , they know it and we know it too .we well be rebuilding them same trucks vary soon . yes its time to just point and laugh and stay hunkered down stay together and plan and simple wait them out , its more of a circus now. Let the show began , They have just turned the Corner to being the BUTTS AND JOKE OF THE TRUCK PLANT . the hate we all have for them well stay long after the strike but a good joke like this is for the moment lets all take great joy in watching them make fools of themselves . yes its time to keep a cool head and keep doing just what we have been and take it in ,we can walk the line yelling and mad or we can laugh at the clowns lol [really point and laugh.] Let them be Mad and scared lol Yes keep up your chins brothers and sisters where doing great keep buying that time our negotiating team needs and have a laugh on the management , from now on I well not be angry I am pointing and laughing WHERE WINING THIS BATTLE . your brother Delbert

    • has anyone else had thier facebook hacked /?? I am asking someone to please post this on the union face book for me till i get mine back

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