By on August 12, 2021

John Kershner/Shutterstock.com

Technicians at over 50 dealerships in and around Chicago are now in their second week on strike.

They’re fighting with the Chicago New Car Dealer Committee, which represents the 56 dealers involved, as they negotiate their next four-year contract.

The mechanics/technicians are represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and are members of Local 701. Meanwhile, the Chicago Automobile Trade Association is not part of the negotiations but says it supports its members who are part of the New Car Dealer Committee (NCDC).

(Full disclosure: I’ve done paid and unpaid work for CATA in the past, before TTAC, and have guested on their car-talk radio show during my time here).

Local 701 claims the NCDC is keeping the strike going by not responding to the union’s rejection of its most recent proposal.

The union wants the NCDC to pay for some contributions set up by the union’s Health and Welfare Fund and to not offer any contracts that include “most favored nation” language. It also wants the NCDC to not make it easier to reduce a skilled worker’s guaranteed weekly pay if the worker isn’t meeting expectations due to extenuating circumstances. Extenuating circumstances such as a COVID-related shut down, for example.

From Automotive News: “We’ve told the NCDC we are happy to return to the table when it can realign its positions with [union members’] demands.”

Dave Sloan, the president of CATA, said dealers asked for a counterproposal during the strike’s first week and that the NCDC was prepared to meet but the union didn’t show up.

“As we wait, there are about 800 of our dealers’ technicians out on strike, walking the picket line, sitting in the driving rain and wilting in the hot sun, not getting a paycheck, wondering when their union will get back to the negotiating table,” Sloan said in a statement.

The strike began on August 2nd. Ninety-seven percent of the union’s members voted to reject the NCDC’s proposal and go on strike. The two sides had been bargaining for months, and the NCDC offered its contract proposal on July 31.

This follows a seven-and-half-week strike in 2017 by the same union after similar contract disagreements.

[Image: John Kershner/Shutterstock.com]

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34 Comments on “Chicago Mechanic Strike Continues...”


  • avatar
    jack4x

    Talk about a giant douche/turd sandwich situation….

  • avatar
    Crosley

    Sounds like the union wants a blank check to claim “Covid” whenever it wants and get paid to stay at home and never go back to work. Just like the teacher’s union.

    Covid is going to be just like the flu. Around us forever and deadly to certain vulnerable people in the population. Even with a really effective, annual flu vaccine, hundreds of thousands die of it every year. But the world keeps spinning.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      “Even with a really effective, annual flu vaccine, hundreds of thousands die of it every year.”
      Depends on the kind of flu and vaccination rates. The USA has a few 1000 to over 100,000 deaths per year. That’s with roughly 50% of the population vaccinated. The USA death rate tends to be higher than most countries if weighted per capita.

      There are experts pointing to the fact that COVID-19 measures have almost wiped out flu cases this flu season so “business as usual” is going to change.

    • 0 avatar

      It is not only about death rates. You may survive without vaccination but with long lasting lung damage and may be other internal organs too. Do you really want to gamble with your health and bet against experts? I understand though that vaccines were not fully tested but we already have huge statistical data available. It is already de facto being tested on millions of humans.

      • 0 avatar
        Vae Victis

        From what I’ve observed in our extended family, it’s an irrational political decision by those caught up in the anti-COVID vaccination crowd. Basically, they refuse vaccination for any and every reason regardless of the consequences, and nothing is going to change their minds (at least nothing so far). So yes, they really want to gamble with not only their health, but also that of their extended family as well.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          @Vae Victis:

          To wit:
          https://miami.cbslocal.com/2021/08/13/broward-educators-lose-battle-with-covid/

          Meanwhile DeSantis has gone HAM against people wearing masks in schools…at the same time four educators died ***in one day***. What, wearing masks is going to make things WORSE?

          (Shakes head)

          Pure insanity.

      • 0 avatar
        SoCalMikester

        hundreds of millions by now, no?

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      Crosley’s post is cringeworthy in its ignorance, and I shudder to think of the harm it could do to innocent people in the unlikely event that they came to TTAC for their medical advice.

      It is true that COVID may eventually be “just like the flu”— a disease that leaves a horrifying worldwide swath of death as the flu did during WWI, then mutates into a less deadly form that mostly kills only the old and weak. But it is definitely not that now:

      •Although our government’s Centers for Disease Control are declining to even count non-hospitalizable COVID cases among the vaccinated, and various states with right-wing regimes are in politically motivated denial about basic public health measures, current statistics clearly show that more people are getting sick and dying in states that do so.

      •What’s more, it’s rapidly becoming clear that the fast-spreading Delta variant that has caused mass death in India and the UK is more of a threat to the young and healthy than original COVID was, spreads more easily, and more demands those public health measures such as masking that apparently are so easy for the uninformed to brush off as unnecessary.

      In short, no matter how many of our friends, family or ourselves are needlessly sacrificed in the name of carelessness or billionaires’ desire not to forgo a day’s income, “the world will keep spinning.” But just as in the post-dinosaur era, that doesn’t mean all of us will be around to see it. Crosley, you have the right to mindlessly kill yourself. But you don’t have the right to kill me, or my kids, or my mother.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        If you come here for medical advice I have no more sympathy for you than I do for those that were taking advice about vaccines and autism from Playmate of the Year 1998 a few years back.

    • 0 avatar
      SaabStory

      Wouldn’t you like to be able to visit public places without much risk of getting sick?

      Like you said, many people die due to common illnesses circulating, and sadly there is no medicine that is ever a perfect prophylaxis. Letting people ride out their illness alone at home is a very simple way of keeping humanity less diseased, and more productive.

      A very sick person cannot work anyways. A moderately sick person may be well enough to work, but could infect the whole workplace and destroy productivity. Highly productive nations, like Germany for example, can have a mandated minimum of 6-weeks’ sick leave.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “Covid is going to be just like the flu.”

      “Is going to be”? LOL…it’s already happened. Have you been in a sensory deprivation chamber on Mars for the last year and a half?

      Can’t decide if you’re being willfully ignorant or just trolling.

    • 0 avatar
      kris86

      The strike has nothing to do with Covid.
      Over 60 dealers have already left the NCDC and signed a fair contract with their techs.
      The NCDC offer will never be accept by the techs with the MFN clause, reduction in base pay and no increase in H&W

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    Mark your calendars; don’t plan on any service come August 2025.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Possibly related (probably not, sorry for wasting your time):

    http://oldartguy.com/Workers_Paradise.html

    • 0 avatar
      aja8888

      Good post. It’s all true.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      ToolGuy, if you think the solution to workers’ problems is to make sure they never unionize lest we turn into a dystopian Soviet Union, you’re an American billionaire’s wet dream.

      That said, I’ve see this kind of stuff on car sites all over the web. It isn’t logically necessary to be right-wing in order to love cars, yet it seems to happen disproportionately often. Strange.

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        @tonycd,

        – Chicago sounds like a lovely, lovely place to live and do business. (This is sarcasm.)

        – I definitely support the management of the OEM’s, because they are so exceptionally good at what they do. (This is definitely sarcasm.)

        – It seems like the Chicago-area dealers and the Chicago-area technicians deserve each other. (This is not sarcasm.)

        Very few American billionaires are involved with manufacturing vehicles. [I wonder why that is?]

        • 0 avatar
          tonycd

          ToolGuy, I’ll tell you why. Because very few American billionaires are involved with manufacturing anything. This is not a coincidence.

          Today’s American economic structure, with its lower taxes on capital gains vs. productive endeavor and its tax incentives to export jobs to the Third World, don’t reward productive investment. They reward playing games with money and imposing a tax on the productive work of others (for instance, Uber shoving itself in as the middleman in the taxi business, or charter schools siphoning off a profit from formerly nonprofit public education, or for-profit health insurers jacking up the cost of healthcare).

          Chicago, BTW, can be a lovely, lovely place to live. I have extensive experience with it. While it has its downsides (what place doesn’t?), it has neighborhoods that have beautiful housing, tree-lined streets, world-class dining and culture, and a nearby lakefront that’s the envy of many seaside towns. You should explore it sometime.

          Finally, to your post about the joys of non-Soviet-era capitalism, unfortunately the comfortable working-class America you remember is no longer the one that half of Americans are (barely) living in.

          Note: This is not to say that I recommend a turn toward becoming 1984-vintage Soviet Russia. But it IS to say that today’s unregulated, predatory capitalism is also not working for most US citizens. One example among many:
          https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2021/08/close-to-50-of-us-workers-cant-afford-to-rent-one-bedroom-housing.html

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            @tonycd:
            “Today’s American economic structure, with its lower taxes on capital gains vs. productive endeavor and its tax incentives to export jobs to the Third World, don’t reward productive investment. ”

            Nothing new there – as I recall, Lee Iacocca said in his autobiography that he would have an easier time making money on money than he would on making cars.

          • 0 avatar

            One thing about Americans is we like Black and White solutions. It seems taking parts of each system works better but you know logic is trumped by emotions. Certain parts of things work our better with Capitalism and other’s don’t. Some hybrid is probably the best option.

            On the Money making Money, I remember an interview with a Disney heiress. She said she never thinks about how much money she spends, has a nice apartment in New York and a House in Cali, goes where she wants when she wants, but when ever she looks into her finances there is more money there then last time she looked. Unless your aggressive with risk or Stupid it’s pretty easy to make a large fortune keep growing almost infidelity.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            @mopar:

            Yep, and if you have enough money, you can make a VERY nice living just having your financial advisor buy and sell your equities. Figure a 3% return on investment on $10 million – that’s $300,000 a year, taxed at 18%, versus 35% if that was W2 income. If your portfolio is diversified, there’s very little risk. It’s a no-brainer.

            And we wonder why rich folks sit on their money and don’t invest it in startups? Seriously…do I risk losing everything, or do I just sit on my money and make 300 large a year, basically risk free, at a 17% lower tax rate? Duh. It’s a no brainer.

            I’ve long thought the key to economic growth and more equitable wealth distribution isn’t to tax rich folks to death (they’ll just leave, just like they did in England in the ’60s and ’70s) – it’s to give them tax incentives to take their money off the sidelines and DO something with it.

            The only workers who benefit from this are the ones on Wall Street.

  • avatar
    hondaaustin

    I imagine this is a great thing for independent shops.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    “The mechanics are fighting against the NCDC’s plan to reduce weekly guaranteed paid hours for journeyman technicians, the top tier of pay, based on whether or not workers meet the dealership’s productivity expectations rather than the number of hours they are actually in the shop.”

    “Workers are also fighting for better health care benefits, more funding for the training fund, an increase of qualified staff, an improvement to retirement benefits and more paid time off.”

    “With 41 years in the trade, Sanecki was outraged at the proposal of the New Car Dealers Committee for a clause in the new contract that would allow dealerships to unilaterally lower wages or diminish conditions.”

    Classic union versus management strike.

    “(Full disclosure: I’ve done paid and unpaid work for CATA in the past, before TTAC, and have guested on their car-talk radio show during my time here).”

    That explains the management spin in this news article.

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      Pro-management spin? Sorry, no. I have no dog in this fight (and I also worked on the service side, though I was never a tech and I don’t think I was ever union). I disclosed my past work because you might think I was hiding a conflict of interest if I didn’t. My work for CATA was pretty far from anything that involved labor/management (I mostly wrote some informative pieces on new cars).

      I made sure to present both sides of this dispute equally, and my copy is similar to the language used by the Automotive News article I cited. Intentionally so — AN was neutral and I wanted to show that we are, here, too.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        You didn’t source any comments from the union or workers. That tilts the piece towards management. The quote from Sloan is strongly biased towards the union side. You did not seek or provide the “union” with a chance to respond.

        There are 3 sides to every story, side A’s, side B’s and then the actual truth. Isn’t it your responsibility to work on finding the truth?

        Who, what, when, where, how, and why is irrelevant if only one side provides their version.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Techs must be in demand these days.
    Pretty much every store here in central Indiana has a hiring sign.
    I also noticed the Hendrick #5 car in Sunday’s Nascar race had a “Hiring Technicians” sign on the rear fenders.

  • avatar

    Techs are hard to find these days. Part of the issue is there pay hasn’t really kept pace with other parts of the economy, I know very few people doing it anymore and I used to know lots. Some went back to school, others moved into other areas that paid better (union manufacturing government jobs).
    I was reviewing some numbers on a repair shop a family number was looking at buying, among the issues I saw in the shops numbers was way under paid techs. I told the family member not a good deal, as new Techs would run more like 20-25% more and some of the current ones were closing in on retirement age.

  • avatar
    tane94

    The 1980s K-Car limo was longer, at 210 inches. The 2.2L must have been grossly underpowered for the limo with passenger on board.
    https://www.allpar.com/threads/the-k-car-based-chrysler-executive-and-limousine%C2%A0.229750/

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    an uncle of mine died in florida yesterday. from covid. if anyone deserved it, that POS did. immunosuppressed and 80 years old. from what i understand, he posted a lot of racist stuff on facebook, as well as squatting in my grandparents house when they passed. nothing of value was lost

  • avatar
    Socrates77

    There was a time when we needed unions, when companies like the coal industry would endangered and overworked the poor rural employees. A lot of them died of cancer. Now we don’t need them we have laws that protect workers, unions are now greedy and corrupt. And has made employees lazy and overpaid.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      Please post evidence that all unions are corrupt and all workers are overpaid and lazy?

      Unions are still of benefit. The USA has demonized unions and anything resembling socialism since WW2.

    • 0 avatar
      kris86

      What laws are your referring to that protect a tech? They often work 40+ hours and aren’t paid for the time. Their pay is not always based on their skills. It’s based on the ability of someone else to sell the needed work to a customer, the dispatcher handing out work fairly, the warranty clerk getting the claim filed correctly, parts dept having parts in stock or the ability to get them quickly…
      The NCDC wants to include a MFN clause that basically says that they can promise anything that they want to get the techs to sign the contract and then cherry pick and change any part of the contract at any time during the next 4 years if the union has any other contract with any other dealer or dealer group if the clause is more favorable to the dealer. However, the NCDC will not allow a similar clause that would allow the Union to change any clause that might be more favorable to the techs

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