United Autoworkers union members have ratified a three-year contract proposal with Navistar International Corp.’s International Truck and Engine unit, ending a seven-week strike. The contract runs through October 1, 2010, and covers 3,700 workers at nine International operations, including the group’s foundry and engine assembly plant in Indianapolis. Other locations covered by the new contract include the Melrose Park, IL, engine assembly and engine engineering plant; the Springfield, OH, truck assembly plant; the Fort Wayne, IN, truck engineering plant; and parts distribution centers in Atlanta, York, PA, and Dallas. International Truck and Engine has more than 16,000 employees worldwide. “We expect the new agreements to result in operational and cost improvements at these facilities while maintaining a good quality of life for our employees and retirees,” stated Navistar chairman, president, and CEO Dan Ustian. “This deal represents a positive step forward for these facilities.” In a statement, Navistar indicated the new pact brings “significant improvements” for operational flexibility and cost structure, and maintains operational improvements established in prior contracts. The new contract will eliminate minimum employment level requirements, allows the manufacturer to assign “non-core work” to outside suppliers; makes possible closings or sales of specific locations; improves International’s “new hire” package; and a “living operating agreement” that it explains will facilitate ongoing improvements. Navistar also reports that the UAW has dropped all unfair labor-practice charges it had filed with the National Labor Relations Board, which it had claimed were the basis of its strike. The contract negotiations had been in progress periodically for more than two years, according to Navistar, and the strike was initiated October 23. However, the manufacturer stated that it had organized its operations so that customers were unaffected by the work stoppage. "With extraordinary efforts and planning, we met all delivery schedules and as a result, we are well positioned as a business going forward,” according to Ustian.