Union leaders for some 7,200 autoworkers late Friday said they reached a last-minute wage agreement with Daimler Truck in three southern US states, averting a strike.

The tentative agreement between the United Auto Workers and Daimler Truck was forged just minutes before a contract was to expire at midnight for workers who build long-haul trucks and buses.

The UAW, led by President Shawn Fain, said the four-year agreement includes raises of more than 25 percent, the end of wage tiers and regular cost-of-living adjustments.

A strike would have affected four industrial sites in North Carolina and one each in Tennessee and Georgia.

The plants make Freightliner and Western Star trucks and Thomas Built buses.

"We said we needed protection against inflation," Fain said in a late-night Facebook live broadcast, surrounded by autoworkers, from Charlotte, North Carolina. "We won cost of living allowance for the first time in Daimler history."

The wage agreement still must be ratified by the workers.

Fain said workers would hold a "victory rally" on Saturday in Charlotte.

In a webcast earlier this week, Fain hit out at Chairman Martin Daum over lofty executive pay and for steering extra cash to shareholder payouts instead of adequately compensating workers.

"In the new UAW, we don't take concessions. We raise standards for everyone and we fight for what we deserve," Fain said. "And we're not afraid to strike to get it."

The UAW won a landmark unionization drive at Volkswagen's Tennessee factory a week ago, adding to momentum after simultaneous strikes of Detroit's "Big Three" carmakers resulted in wage gains.

Jon Greene, a forklift driver at Daimler Truck's Cleveland, North Carolina manufacturing plant, characterized achieving a livable wage increase in light of inflation as a priority, along with job security and standardizing pay throughout the six facilities.

In December 2021, Daimler Truck was spun off from Mercedes-Benz, which retains about a 30 percent stake in the truck company.

The UAW is hoping to add a Mercedes-Benz car plant in Alabama to its network when workers vote next month in a unionization election in the first referendum after the VW win in Tennessee.