UAW strike against truck maker enters its 2nd week

A United Automobile Workers strike against Mack Trucks Inc., entered its second week Oct. 28 with ''optimism waning a little,'' according to William McCullough, Mack vice-president for corporate affairs. Contract talks, primarily over job security, had appeared to be headed toward a settlement last weekend.

''Hope springs eternal, and I'm still an optimist,'' Mr. McCullough said Monday in Allentown, Pa.

Bill Casstevens, UAW vice-president and director of the union's Mack Trucks department, said in a break in negotiations that there had been some progress, but ''it's not over yet.''

The United Automobile Workers, fresh from bargaining successes with GM and Ford, struck Mack Trucks on Oct. 21, when negotiations under way since mid-August broke off. The walkout against the country's second largest heavy-duty truck builder closed four plants in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland, and idled 9,200 workers. The walkout in the United States quickly caused layoffs in an Ontario, Canada, truck plant that was not struck. A Mack Trucks plant in Melbourne, Australia, also could be affected by a prolonged strike.

The walkout was the first authorized by UAW against the company since 1964. Mr. Casstevens said that most of the strikers ''have never been on a picket line before.''

Mack Trucks unionists agreed to a wage freeze and reduced benefits in 1983, when the company and industry were in a deep recession. The company is now making a strong recovery. It surpassed $1 billion in net sales for the first six months of 1984 - the best showing for any six-month period in the company's history. It also reported earnings of $31.6 million for the same period.

The UAW says the company's improved financial situation warrants ''makeup'' economic gains for workers and increased job security through a contract provision that would allow the company to lay off workers only when sales drop. Mack Trucks says employees now receive an average $24 an hour in wages and benefits and have been offered ''substantial'' increases this year.

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