Declaring that new car dealers have “waved the white flag and capitulated to our demands,” union mechanics announced a new four-year deal Sunday has ended a nearly seven-week strike against roughly 130 Chicago-area dealerships.
The announcement follows recent predictions that the strike was nearing an end. The union had seen an influx of dealers looking to negotiate on their own. Sam Cicinelli, directing business representative for Automobile Mechanics Local 701, said late last week that half of the dealerships making up the New Car Dealer Committee had already signed interim deals.
On Sunday, Cicinelli told the union’s members the NCDC had tried — and failed — to break the union, according to a press release. Now nearly 2,000 mechanics who’ve been walking the picket line since early August are headed back to work Monday.
“They attempted every dirty trick in the book by trying to demoralize you on the line,” Cicinelli said. “They tried to fill you with uncertainty while blaming the union for what’s going on. They tried to divide you. But we divided them.”
NCDC spokesman Mark Bilek confirmed the deal but declined to comment on the union’s rhetoric. He also deferred to the union on the terms of the deal, noting simply that the dealers are “very happy that this has finally come to a resolution.”
The final agreement mirrors the offer agreed upon by the more than 70 individual dealerships that broke ranks and brokered interim deals, according to the union’s press release. The contract includes “a significant wage increase across the board and the mechanics’ No. 1 issue of increasing their base pay two additional hours over the term of the agreement,” the union said.
It also addresses the advancement of semi-skilled workers toward a career path, shortens the apprenticeship scale from 10 to five years, fixes a break in seniority for a longer period if workers get hurt on the job, offers a more family-friendly work schedule to senior-level journeymen technicians, maintains the employee contribution for health insurance and increases tool insurance to cover up to $100,000, according to the press release.
“We wrestled them down, defending each of their moves to where they finally tapped out,” Cicinelli said. “They waved the white flag and capitulated to our demands.”