The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Volvo Workers’ Fight

Jul 19, 2021

Workers at the Volvo truck plant in Dublin, Virginia have decided to end their strike, at least for now, after making a determined fight for a better contract.

In April, the 2,900 UAW members voted down a tentative agreement by 91% and went on strike for 2 weeks. After a 2nd tentative agreement was reached, the workers went back to work while they were voting on the new agreement. The Volvo workers then voted down the 2nd tentative agreement by 90% and went on strike again on June 7.

When a 3rd tentative agreement was reached in July, the workers stayed on strike while they were voting on the agreement. On July 8, Volvo workers voted by over 60% to continue the strike and to reject the 3rd agreement.

At this point, the company said it would try to resume production and tried to get Volvo workers to cross the picket lines. Only a handful of workers did. The UAW International leadership then scheduled another vote on the 3rd tentative agreement that the workers had already voted down. On July 15, the UAW reported that Volvo workers voted to accept this contract, but only by 17 votes—1,147 to 1,130. Even facing the threats of the company and facing pressure from the UAW top leadership to end the strike, over 49% of the Volvo workers voted that they were still ready to continue the strike.

During the strike, Volvo workers who were interviewed said they were striking over 2-tier wages, wages that don’t keep up with inflation and increased health care costs for active workers and retirees. These are issues that auto workers and many other workers can recognize today. We are all facing the same attacks on our standard of living.

In a time period of very few strikes, when the working class has been quiet for many years, the Volvo workers showed a strong determination to fight to defend their standard of living. Certainly, with half of the workforce showing they are still ready to fight, Volvo will have to think twice about their next moves.

The problems at Volvo are shared by almost all of the working class today. A fight such as theirs can easily spread, just as one firecracker ignites another, and then another. This threat scares the bosses! But workers will enjoy the fireworks.