Navistar, UAW will continue negotiations, avoid work stoppage

Navistar employees in Springfield temporarily avoided a walkout Tuesday afternoon as contract negotiations with the truck maker stretched past an afternoon deadline.

Company officials and members of the United Auto Workers had agreed to extend the terms of their current agreeement at the beginning of this month. The company’s current contract with workers expired at 12:01 a.m. on Oct. 1.

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However, on Monday the UAW provided a 24-hour notice to the company that the extension would expire at 1 p.m. Tuesday. A lockout was possible, but both sides continued to talk past the 1 p.m. deadline. Local union officials said workers would remain on the job Tuesday as talks continued.

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Chris Blizard, president of the UAW Local 402, said he was unable to provide any further details Tuesday afternoon.

Officials from both Navistar and the UAW’s main office in Detroit also did not provide further details on Tuesday aside from saying both sides are still negotiating. A Navistar website dedicated to providing updates on the negotiation process also did not provide any new details Tuesday.

The company is a significant employer locally, with about 1,800 workers in the facility. Thousands of the company’s retirees also live in the area.

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The News-Sun reported earlier this year the industry is seeing near-record demand for heavy trucks, boosting revenue both for manufacturers like Navistar and their suppliers. Rising freight rates mean trucking firms are likely seeing solid profits, boosting confidence and encouraging fleets to replace their aging trucks.

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This fall is an important time for workers in Springfield aside from the negotiations. Navistar is also expected to launch a new medium-duty Silverado truck that is being built by workers in Springfield. The firm is continuing to hire workers for that project.

The new Class 4, 5 and 6 chassis cab trucks, which will be aimed at fleet and commercial customers, are expected to launch later this year as part of a partnership with GM.


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