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'A slap in the face': Local UAW slams Mack Trucks decision to build plant in Mexico

Mack Trucks, 7000 Alburtis Road, Macungie
Donna S. Fisher
For LehighValleyNews.com
The parent company of Mack Trucks announced this week plans to build a heavy duty truck plant in Mexico.

LOWER MACUNGIE TWP., Pa. — This week's announcement by Mack Trucks' parent company to build a heavy-duty truck manufacturing plant outside the Lehigh Valley is causing the relationship between the company and its union workers to go south.


The Volvo Group, the parent company of Mack Trucks, announced on Thursday it will build a Class 8 manufacturing plant in Mexico.

Class 8 trucks are large, heavy-duty tractor-trailers with gross vehicle weights up to 80,000 pounds. They are engineered to carry massive loads on interstates and highways.

The plant in Mexico will measure about 1.7 million square feet. It is expected to be operational in 2026.

Volvo Group’s announcement was met with intense disappointment by the leadership of the United Auto Workers 677 in Allentown, which represents 2,300 workers at the Lower Macungie Township assembly plant.

"This is a slap in the face for all of us."
Tim Hertzog, shop chair, UAW Local 667

The decision to build in Mexico was viewed as “a slap in the face” by union members.

“We are extremely disappointed in Volvo’s decision to build a Class 8 plant in Mexico as our local leadership have been working closely with local and state government officials to build a state-of-the-art plant in the Lehigh Valley,” wrote Tim Hertzog, union shop chair, in a letter posted on the local union's website.

“This is a slap in the face for all of us. The company provided us with this information at 11:43 a.m. and told us that it would be published at 12:00 noon.”

The union is looking into the contractual obligations for build rates at the Lehigh Valley Operations (LVO) plant and the potential legal ramifications for this decision, Hertzog wrote.

The letter from Volvo also was posted on the union website.

The company is seeking to continue exploring opportunities to further increase its production capacity and expand its market presence, according to the release.

“This additional capacity will support both brands’ ambitious growth plans for the U.S. and Canada, and support Mack sales in Mexico and Latin America,” the letter continued.

“The investment comes on the heels of significant investment in our U.S. production sites. LVO and NRV (New River Valley, Dublin, Va.) will continue to be the company’s main North American heavy truck production sites and we will produce significantly more trucks in the U.S. than in the new plant.”

Volvo Group has invested more than $73 million over the past five years in LVO expansion and upgrades, and is currently investing an additional $80 million to prepare for future production, the letter continued.

Democratic lawmakers from the Lehigh Valley issued a joint statement expressing their disappointment in Volvo Group’s decision to build a plant in Mexico instead of locally.

State Reps. Peter Schweyer, Jeanne McNeill, Mike Schlossberg and Josh Siegel, all of Lehigh County; state Reps. Robert Freeman and Steve Samuelson, both of Northampton County; and state Sen. Nick Miller, of Lehigh County, all expressed concern about the decision to build in Mexico.

“It’s hard to understand why Volvo would choose to build this All-American line of trucks outside of the United States,” the statement read. “We absolutely want Volvo in the Lehigh Valley. We view them as a key part of our local economy and our community. That is why we and many others have worked in good faith with Volvo Group to ensure their continued success in our region.”

The lawmakers added that Volvo Group should know “that our loyalty is not with the corporation.”

“Rather, our priority will always be with the hardworking men and women that made Mack Trucks the successful and iconic brand that it is today.”

U.S. Rep. Susan Wild, D-Lehigh Valley, echoed the sentiments of state legislators.

“Mack Trucks is a uniquely American brand,” Wild said in a news release. “For years, construction of every Mack Truck built for North American roads started in Macungie, Pennsylvania.

“I’m deeply disappointed at Mack’s decision to upend that proud tradition, especially at this time of a resurgence in Made in America manufacturing, which is so vital for our country’s workers and economy.”

Wild said she has been in contact with Mack leadership regarding the company’s Mexico facility.

“[T]hey have assured me that their Lehigh Valley Operations will remain Mack’s largest manufacturing facility,” Wild said. “I have asked for assurances that no Lehigh Valley jobs will be lost or phased out as a result of this move.

“Our UAW workers have been a key to Mack’s worldwide success, and they deserve the security of knowing that the company will not displace them.”