Freightliner rejects pay cut returns for Portland workers

PORTLAND, (Feb. 13, 2004) — Freightliner has apparently rejected requests from its employees’ union to return pay cuts reached with the workers when the company was losing money almost three years ago, the Oregonian newspaper reported.

Now that parent company DaimlerChrysler has reported 14 per cent growth from North American commercial vehicle operations — including Freightliner and subsidiaries Sterling Trucks and Western Star Trucks — the four unions representing 1,200 workers want back some of the cuts they agreed to in 2001, when Freightliner lost a reported $1.2 billion and cut about 700 jobs. The unions took $2-an-hour wage cuts, and gave up bonuses and other benefits in an effort to keep the truck plant in Portland.

Despite the optimistic truck sales outlook for Freightliner and other truck OEMs for the rest of 2004, company CEO Rainer Schmueckle rejected the proposal during a meeting with union leaders earlier this month, according to the newspaper.

The rejection comes just months before the July 1 expiration of Freightliner’s contract covering all its union members. Formal contract negotiations are expected to begin this spring.

Meanwhile, Freightliner has recalled 60 workers who had been laid off in 2001. Last month, the company recalled 25 workers, union officials said.

— from The Oregonian

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