More than 800 auto mechanics at dozens of Chicago area car dealerships are on strike after they rejected a new contract offer from an agency representing the businesses this week.
The mechanics, represented by IAM Mechanics’ Local 701, walked out on the job and have been on the picket line for nearly two days after rejecting the latest proposed offer.
“We’re willing to stay out here as long as it takes to get an agreement that’s acceptable to our membership,” IAM representative Ronnie Gonzalez said.
According to Gonzalez, the mechanics rejected the latest contract offer with 97% of the ballots cast, and then followed that up with a strike vote that received the support of 99% of the union’s membership.
“I’d rather be working, (but) we made a lot of concessions a couple of contracts ago,” mechanic Bob Poynter said.
In 2017, a similar strike took place, with mechanics going on a strike that lasted nearly two months. Now, with the union’s contract expiring with a group of 55 Chicago area automotive dealers, another walkout has begun.
According to Gonzalez, one of the offers rejected by the union would have reduced base pay for workers.
“One of the proposals that the NCDC gave us was a reduction in base pay rate, which would give managers the ability to reduce the guarantee that a member would receive when they would come into work for an entire week,” he said.
Union members also say that the new deal would cause health insurance rates to rise.
The committee representing the dealerships say those arguments fail to take into account new legislation that boosts mechanics’ pay for repairs covered by warranty, which they say will help address the issue of reduction of base pay.
“We want to get back to work. We’ve got a great offer on the table,” Dave Sloan of the Chicago Automobile Trade Association said. “For them to take their technicians and their members back on strike is just surprising.”