IAM Local 701 auto mechanics on strike against new car dealerships across the Chicagoland area were proud to receive a visit from IAM International President Bob Martinez and IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Philip J. Gruber to the strike line Wednesday.
Martinez and Gruber, while making their rounds to Machinist State Council meetings throughout the midwest, took a detoured flight to Chicago to assure area auto mechanics the entire union has their backs.
“I want you to know how proud I am, how proud this Executive Council is, and how proud all of our members are for what you’re doing for working families across this country,” said Martinez to members at the Naperville Cadillac dealership on Ogden Ave. “The eyes of the nation are upon Local 701 mechanics. They are watching this strike intensely because you are fighting for people that belong to unions – and for people that don’t belong to unions. Thank you for making this union proud and thank you for everything you’re doing on behalf of working men and women across this country.”
Members of IAM Automobile Mechanics Local 701, based in Carol Stream, IL, now in their fourth week on strike against Chicago’s New Car Dealer Committee (NCDC), are demanding fair pay and more fair work schedules. Unbeknownst to many outside the auto industry, auto mechanics are not compensated for every hour they work.
“It’s about getting paid for the time that they work,” said Gruber. “They don’t get paid for every hour that they work. Sometimes the public doesn’t understand that process. These are highly-skilled, highly-talented mechanics. They repair these cars everyday and get them back out on the road safely. The talents that these men and women have is irreplaceable. You can’t ship these repairs to Mexico. You can’t ship them overseas. It has to be done right here.”
“It’s unfortunate that we have to engage in this process of withholding our services,” continued Gruber, “but these auto mechanics, for the last two contracts, have taken concessionary agreements. It’s about time these dealerships begin to give back what these auto mechanics have given up to make the dealerships successful and to help the dealerships get through the very difficult economic times over the last 10 years.”
Another sticking point is the current promotion track. According to the trajectory scale, a mechanic could be held as an apprentice for as long as eight years.
“It doesn’t take eight years to learn a trade,” said Martinez. “We need to come back and do a general four-year apprenticeship program for all mechanics.”
Martinez also talked with the striking members about the various incidents of violence and intimidation shown by some dealerships, most notably the management at the Naperville Cadillac location.
“This violent intimidation and coercion that they’re trying to pull on our membership everyday – trying to use vehicles as weapons against our mechanics who have a legal right to assemble and picket out here…” said Martinez. “It’s a non-violent strike. Yet they continue with their intimidation. They continue with their coercion to try to get our membership to cross the picket line. You are solid. You are strong. And we will remain solid and strong.”
Show your support for Local 701 auto mechanics! In solidarity of the striking mechanics and concern for those who may not be able to afford Cobra payments if their insurance runs out, IAM Local 701 has put together a GoFundMe page.
“We all know health Insurance is extremely important,” reads the page description. “The Local has started this fund to assist those members that are in financial need. It will allow them to make those payments to keep insurance for their families.”