“The IAM is focused on improving and growing the automotive industry while it appears that local dealerships are focused on setting the industry back,” said IAM Automobile Mechanics’ Local 701 Directing Business Representative Sam Cicinelli, after the close of the first day of negotiations into the Union’s Standard Automotive Agreement.
The IAM Local 701 Bargaining Committee opened negotiations with the Chicagoland dealerships Monday. Their contract, which covers more than 1,600 mechanics, is set to expire July 31, 2017.
“After months of planning and preparation,” said Cicinelli, “the IAM Local 701 Bargaining Committee opened negotiations with a number of proposals drafted from direct feedback from the Local 701 membership. But after exchanging first-round proposals with the Dealer Association, it’s clear our members are focused on ways to move the automotive industry forward and attract more workers, while the dealerships are bent on stifling current talent and making the automotive industry less attractive to future technicians.”
Dealerships across the country have been struggling with attracting automotive technicians as vehicles have grown more computerized and vocational programs have disappeared from high schools. Turnover can run as high as 20 percent a year as older mechanics retire and younger workers lack the educational background and insight into what could be a profitable and promising long-term career.
This round of negotiations will have to take that information into account, says Cicinelli, who knows first-hand the needs of the industry, as IAM Local 701 is home to one of the most effective automotive training centers and apprenticeship programs in the city.
“Automotive technicians are in high demand. They can’t be outsourced,” he says. “But the talent pool is shrinking. If you want to attract new talent, a strong union contract with fair wages and quality benefits is where you start. We’ve got a long way to go; this is only day one. The union is committed to working with the companies in negotiating a fair contract for our members.”
“I want to thank Directing Business Representative Sam Cicinelli and the members of the IAM Local 701 negotiating team for their commitment, hard work and dedication in preparing for these negotiations,” said IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Philip J. Gruber. “Most importantly, I would like to thank the membership. Our members are the strength behind this committee. Their support and solidarity are vital as we embark on negotiations over the next few weeks. The IAM looks forward to working with the dealerships in crafting a contract of which we can all be proud of.”