Close to 2,000 technicians at 129 dealerships in metropolitan Chicago have been celebrating the ironically named Labor Day since Aug. 1. That is when Automobile Mechanics’ Local 701 members working under the Standard Automotive Agreement went on strike.

At this point, there seem to be three key unresolved issues (others have been resolved). Based on the propaganda released by both sides, it appears the first emphasizes the need for a base pay “guarantee,” the second involves the employee’s contribution to heath care insurance, and the third focuses on flexible work week limitations.

I say “appears” because of the way each group defines them. Let’s look at each one individually.

1. Base pay. The union says the base pay guarantee centers on a 40-hour guaranteed work week. The New Car Dealers Committee (NCDC), which represents and negotiates for the 129 car dealers, says the union is requesting a guaranteed weekly base salary of more than $1,200. The NCDC’s $1,200 offer is 9% greater than the previous amount of $1,100 paid “regardless of productivity.” Regardless of who is right, this issue is all about money.

2. Health care. The NCDC says the union is balking at paying for any “increases” in the cost of health care; the union has been non-committal as to what it means by the issue of the “weekly employee contribution to the Health and Welfare Fund.” The NCDC says the union is unwilling to pay an additional $5 a month in health care. Money again.

3. Flexible work week limitations. Both groups agree a flexible work week is necessary. Based on what I read, the NCDC wants there to be no limitations, while the union wants “some relief” to the more senior “Journeymen Technicians.” This issue isn't about money but control.

These issues came directly from the Local 701 and NCDC websites, respectively. Who knows if either or both of the parties are spinning the truth?

For example, the NCDC claims union leadership initiated a campaign “to illegally bargain directly with certain hand-picked NCDC dealers.” The committee went on to say union officials “have been soliciting these dealers with contract terms that are outside of the parameters approved by NCDC members in return for a promise to end the strike at those stores.”

The union claims this is not true, saying it “has been approached by a variety of dealers stating that they have notified the NCDC of their intent to withdraw from the association and who have also expressed a desire to work something out with the union.”

The NCDC is either telling the truth, lying or mistaken. The union is either telling the truth or lying.

I’ve seen nastier fights with much more unfriendly rhetoric, but it could get uglier. Both parties have drawn lines in the sand saying they want a good and fair contract; they just don’t know how to define good and fair.

The motto of Automobile Mechanics’ Local 701 is “Ours is the skill that keeps the Nation moving forward!" However, since Aug. 1, 2017, that has not been the case for some 2,000 members, or the union itself.

And that number may grow. Reportedly, some union members not bound by the Standard Automotive Agreement have joined the striking workers.

Like I said, at least for the striking technicians and car dealers in Chicagoland, it could get uglier. The car dealers might lose business they will never get back, making some of those tech jobs irrelevant.

As for the car owners, they have other options. Independent tire dealers, perhaps?

Author

Bob Ulrich
Bob Ulrich

Editor, Retired

Editor Bob Ulrich has earned a reputation as an industry expert thanks to his insightful, in-depth articles and blogs on the tire industry. Before joining Modern Tire Dealer in 1985, Bob earned a B.A. in English literature from Ohio Northern University. Also, he graduated from the University of Akron School of Law with a J.D.

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Editor Bob Ulrich has earned a reputation as an industry expert thanks to his insightful, in-depth articles and blogs on the tire industry. Before joining Modern Tire Dealer in 1985, Bob earned a B.A. in English literature from Ohio Northern University. Also, he graduated from the University of Akron School of Law with a J.D.

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