When Mechanics and Lot Attendants at the Fairway Honda dealership in Corner Brook, Newfoundland discovered their wages were significantly less than their unionized counterparts, they decided to join the Machinists union. Within weeks of making that choice, the newest members of IAM Local 544 have a new collective agreement that increased wages by more than $3 per hour over the life of the agreement.
“I wish all organizing drives could run this smoothly,” said IAM Special Representative/ Organizer Rick Arsenault. “We represent workers at three other dealerships here and when they compared their wages to those available to unionized workers doing the same job, we had no trouble getting union cards signed.”
The new collective agreement was negotiated and ratified shortly after the new bargaining unit was certified.
“The employer was very co-operative in this process,” explained Arsenault. “He agreed to standard contract language on the first day and with a decent medical benefits plan already in place, it allowed us to concentrate on the financial package.”
The four-year agreement provides wage increases of $1.24 per hour in the first year, $ .75 per hour in the second year, $ .65 per hour in the third year and $ .70 per hour in the fourth year. The employer has also agreed to the IAM Labour Management Pension Fund with contributions starting at $ .40 per hour in the first year increasing by $ .20 per hour in each successive year to a total of $1.00 per hour at the end of the agreement.
“I think the fact that the new members ratified the agreement by a 100 per cent margin shows they’re happy with the choice they made to join the Machinists,” said Arsenault.
The IAM also represents workers at auto dealerships in Gander and Clarenville.