Thirty-six IAM Local 1120 members at Lakehead Motors in Thunder Bay, ON went on strike August 2, after the employer forced their hand by not responding to the initial union offer.
The IAM technicians, body men, parts personnel, shippers and receivers, installers and general helpers have been in negotiations since March, when the previous agreement expired.
“The main issues were those which were already resolved at many other auto dealerships in the Thunder Bay area,” said Local 1120 Directing Business Representative Peter Topetto. “Our members have just ratified similar agreements at four other dealerships in Thunder Bay, so I know our demands were quite reasonable.”
Some of the areas being negotiated were pensions, wages, vacation scheduling language, damaged tool replacement, travel time for mandatory training and education, and vision care improvements.
“These negotiations were about fairness to our members,” said Topetto. “All other employers in Thunder Bay saw that and came to an agreement fairly quickly, except at Lakehead Motors. We hear that he is sending work to his other dealerships and we think this is unfair,” Topetto continued. “Sending our members’ work to non-unionized places is sending a very clear message to our members – it’s one that will poison the work environment. We are examining our options as the employer has left us little choice.”
The IAM represents workers at seven auto dealerships in Thunder Bay, among the more than 1,500 members at auto and truck dealerships on Vancouver Island, the lower mainland of British Columbia, Edmonton, Calgary, Fort Frances, Sault Ste. Marie, Markham, Toronto, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador.