Roesch Ford Strike

Members and volunteers striking at Roesch Ford. Picture courtesy of Ryan Kelly of IAM Local 126
Members and volunteers on strike at Roesch Ford in Bensenville, IL. Picture courtesy of Ryan Kelly of IAM Local 126

The Local 701 mechanics working at Roesch Ford in Bensenville, Illinois walked out on strike on Thursday, November 10, 2016 when the employees voted not to accept the owners offer of a “fourteen month extension contract” providing the same terms as the contract which expired July 31st.  “It wasn’t just the offer that had the employees upset, it was the statements made by the owner at the bargaining table that he intended to pull out of the Local 701 Defined Benefit Pension Plan upon the expiration of the  fourteen month contract” said Local 701 Business Representative Bill LePinske.

There is some history of Roesch coming after his mechanics’ contract. Prior to this last agreement, the dealership was covered under the industry standard contract, The Standard Automotive Agreement,  until what was then Elmhurst Ford which was purchased by Roesch.  During the purchase Roesch had the right to negotiate a new bargaining agreement and he took advantage of the economic downturn and high unemployment to gut the workers agreement.

“Among the worse provisions of the previous agreement was a move to ‘seniority by productivity’, a change which effectively cost the workers their seniority, as work flow and productivity can easily be manipulated by management. Seniority provisions are intended to protect workers who have been with an employer from lay-off  based on their date of hire.  Naturally as mechanics age, their productivity tends to go down.  In a seniority by productivity situation the employer could lay-off the employee who has been in service the longest as they slow due to the effects of aging” said LePinske. “In addition to the pension problem, the seniority language and high health insurance premium co-pays were other issues the Union brought to the table that the employer was unwilling to discuss.”

The mechanics were not interested in losing their pensions in fourteen months, and they voted to strike.  “We are not going to allow Roesch to further gut our contract or let him set the table to take away our pensions in fourteen months” said bargaining unit member Brian Ilic.   He then added “my brothers and I will continue to strike until Roesch comes to his senses.”

With the expiration of the Standard Automotive Agreement on the horizon in August of 2017,  Local 701 Directing Business Representative Sam Cicinelli and the rest of the Local 701 Business Representatives are not interested in moving our membership backwards. “The Standard Automotive Agreement covers nearly 1,200 of our members at hundreds of other Local 701 represented dealerships and we are not going to allow a substandard contract at Roesch Ford to lower the bar for the rest of our membership” said Cicinelli, who went on to say,  “In the words of our new International President Robert Martinez Jr., we’re gonna put the fight back into the Fighting Machinists!”

It should be noted that the Mechanics at Roesch Volkswagen ARE NOT ON STRIKE!  Only the mechanics at Roesch Ford, and the Roesch Ford Truck Center are on strike.  Due to the layout of the property where we are on strike, it has given the unfortunate appearance that the Volkswagen store is also out; but that is not the case. “Unfortunately, the Volkswagen store owned by Dan Roesch’s sister, Jeanine Roesch, is situated right between Roesch Ford and The Roesch Ford Truck Center, this has had a negative effect on the Volkswagen store and our members working there” said LePinske “our members and the community should continue to do business with Roesch Volkswagen.  The owner Jeanine has remained committed to providing her Union employees with a competitive contract which provides good benefits for the workers and their families.”

Members are encouraged to stop by the strike line and show their support during the strike.  Roesch Ford is located at 333 W. Grand Ave. in Bensenville, IL.

(c) 2016 Automobile Mechanics' Local 701 IAM&AW