Approximately 30 technicians and parts workers have gone on strike at auto dealerships in Duluth, MN. According to an article in the Superior Telegram, the main sticking point in contract negotiations is that the dealerships want to reduce the times technicians have to complete repairs.
Below is the article as it appeared on the Superior Telegram website.
Krenzen auto mechanics go on strike
By Candace Renalls, Duluth News Tribune
Published June 26, 2012
Fourteen mechanics and parts employees at the Krenzen car dealership in Duluth walked off the job Monday morning and began striking after employers failed to return to the bargaining table.
The four-year contract between United Auto Workers Local 241 and Krenzen and three Hermantown dealerships expired April 31. Subsequent talks through a federal mediator broke down in May.
The walkout at Krenzen followed a similar walkout of 17 mechanics and parts workers at Kolar Toyota on May 15. Striking mechanics now are picketing both sites.
About 30 mechanics and parts workers who are also covered by the contract remain on the job at Duluth Dodge and Kolar Chevrolet. Those dealerships, as well as Krenzen and Kolar Toyota, are represented by the Duluth Automobile Dealers Association in the contract negotiations.
“If we don’t get them back to the bargaining table, others will walk out,” said David Friske, a Krenzen mechanic who was picketing outside the dealership on Monday afternoon.
The 2.5 percent a year wage hike offered isn’t the issue, according to Alex Freeman, a striking master mechanic at Kolar Toyota. Higher employee contributions to health insurance and employees being asked to pay a surcharge for their underfunded pension fund are issues, he and union president Del Soiney say.
But the biggest sticking point is that dealerships want to reduce the times mechanics have to do repairs, veering away from industry guidelines used for years, according to the strikers.
“They want to eliminate wording in the contract so they can charge whatever they want and pay us whatever they want,” Freeman said.
Kevin Bushe, a mechanic and union steward at Krenzen, summed it up this way: “They’re not giving mechanics enough time to do the work. That’s the main deal.”
To read the entire article on the Superior Telegram website, click HERE.