In another show of union pride and solidarity, members of IAM Automobile Mechanics’ Local 701 – on strike at more than 100 auto dealerships across the Chicagoland area – have voted down a third substandard agreement from the Chicago New Car Dealer Committee (NCDC).
The nearly 2,000 auto mechanics rejected the NCDC offer because it once again failed to fairly address several key concerns – union-proposed items in which 30 individual dealerships have already acknowledged as reasonable, says IAM Local 701 Directing Business Representative Sam Cicinelli.
“Members of IAM Local 701 voted to reject the NCDC’s latest offer and continue to strike,” said Cicinelli. “It’s disheartening that the NCDC is steadfast in its opposition to treating its employees fairly, especially when it comes to compensating an employee for his/her time at work.”
“Several dealers have contacted the IAM and expressed their agreement with the union’s reasonable proposal. Those dealers have since broken ranks with the NCDC and have entered into interim agreements with the IAM.
“The proposal contains the same terms offered to the NCDC: a willingness to work with 701 members towards fixing the problem of being forced to work for free, two consecutive days off for our most-senior technicians, and no increase in health and welfare contributions.”
The NCDC contract – shot down by Local 701 auto mechanics Monday – only included a one-hour gain in base pay. It also sought to increase employee contributions towards health insurance – a newly-inserted item which was not included in the NCDC’s original offer.
“Are you willing to sacrifice the past six weeks for a one hour gain in the base pay and now having an increase in the employee contribution towards health insurance?” asks Cicinelli to 701 auto mechanics. “Or are you going to continue to fight for what you know 30 other locations employing 25 percent of our members are agreeable to?”
In an attempt to dissuade other dealerships from breaking ranks, the NCDC has filed NLRB charges alleging the union engaged in “illegal” deals with certain dealers.
“The IAM has not and is not soliciting the dealers to leave the association,” reiterates Cicinelli. “The union will vigorously defend against these charges and believes it is operating within the bounds of the applicable labor laws.”
Local 701 has filed NLRB charges against the NCDC for bargaining in bad faith. In a devious attempt to push their most recent offer through, the NCDC tried to undercut the union by having dealership personnel walk the offer out to each strike line before the union had a chance to review the proposal.
The successfulness of the move is evident in the vote.
“I want to commend the members of IAM Local 701, Directing Business Representative Sam Cicinelli, and his entire staff on the strength, resolve, and solidarity shown since the members’ first vote to go out on the picket lines on August 1st,” said IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Philip J. Gruber. “People across the entire U.S. have been watching this strike very closely. It has brought to light many of the issues workers in the automotive industry face – most notably mechanics having to work for free. It’s been an ongoing problem for many years – put on the back burner to help the car industry get through hard economic times. But profits are back up and our membership has decided enough is enough. The time to address the issue is now. They have the support of this entire union.”