The strike at Roesch Ford ended Wednesday, November 30, 2016. 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. Since entering into the last Agreement there were several provisions in the contract which the employees wanted to have removed and have parity with the other roughly 1,400 other mechanics covered by the Standard Automotive Agreement.
Since the last contract was signed members working at Roesch had expressed on several occasions how serious they were about getting back into the Standard Automotive agreement in this next contract. “During the proposals meeting the bargaining unit seemed pretty fired up to take back what they had lost in the last contract and fight for something with more reasonable insurance premium co-pays and regain their seniority” said LePinske.
There is 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 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 owner also wanted the additional time to put together a company 401(k) Plan with full intention to negotiate out of the Union’s Pension Plan fourteen months later. “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.
“It was shameful that not only was the owner, Dan Roesch, unwilling to address the Union’s proposals to move these workers closer to the contract they deserve but he had the audacity to come to the bargaining table and discuss taking more from his employees like it was no big deal” said LePinske. He added, “These are the same workers who made him his fortune, and while Dan Roesch might think he built a great business, the truth is the workers he intended to fleece at the bargaining table are the ones who built that dealership.”
In as much as the mechanics professed to stand up and fight for the Standard Automotive Agreement when the cards were out on the table they took a strike vote and agreed to go out on strike. Unfortunately, immediately following the walkout on November 10th, 6 Bargaining Unit Members decided to return to work behind the strike line as SCABS. “It’s devastating to any strike line when members turn their backs on their brothers for their own self gain” said LePinske, “A scab brings neither dignity nor pride with him behind a strike line, only greed.“
After this initial showing of weakness from the original six SCABS, slowly other mechanics started to follow and the chances of having a successful strike dwindled. “Their last contract was a direct reflection of a weak bargaining unit” said LePinske. “The employer knows how to take advantage of the greedy nature of a weak minded SCAB to manipulate them into doing anything, including turning their backs on their own Union brothers.”
Unfortunately, due to the nature of the situation, Local 701 has determined that it is no longer in the best interest of the entire Local or our membership to continue to represent this Bargaining Unit. “An agreement that is so far below the standards set by our Union can only go to weaken the rest of our nearly 600 bargaining agreements,” said Directing Business Representative Sam Cicinelli. “We have the responsibility to literally thousands of working families represented by Local 701 to make tough decisions in defense of our entire Local.
“This was a though decision. Local 701 has proven we will stand behind our members and fight for good contracts. The Business Agents stood side by side with our members at Piemonte Chevrolet for 485 days” said Cicinelli. He added, “When a majority of the workers return as SCABS who are unwilling to fight for their own benefits why would the Local continue to commit manpower and financial resources to a bargaining unit that weakens our industry.”
Not all the mechanics chose to sell out however, in fact there were several that stood up for what they believed in and refused to go back in. Luckily the demand for qualified technicians is so high right now that Local 701 had no problem placing the remainder of our members who chose to continue to stand up for their contract in other shops where they will be able to enjoy the benefits they deserve as qualified Union Mechanics.
“I am really proud of our members who held the line and refused to sell out to Roesch. Members like these are an inspiration to others and set a good example of what it means to be a Union member. I can’t say enough of how proud I am of these guys.” said LePinske.
“As for the SCABS” said LePinske, “I will quote Walker C. Smith, in part…”
“The SCAB is a legion. He is the representative of that host of slaves who think in therms of their masters. The SCAB owns nothing, yet he speaks from the standpoint of the millionaire; he is patriotic without patrimony; he is a law abiding outlaw; he boasts of ‘tremendous wheat exports,’ yet has no bread on his table; he licks the hand that smites him and kisses the boot that kicks him; he is the personification of all that a worker should not be… The Scab is part of the labor problem. In fact were it not for the innumerable SCABS there would be no labor problems.”
~Walker C. Smith
Please take note, effective immediately, Roesch Ford of 333 W. Grand Ave. is a non-Union shop. Members, other Labor Organizations, and the community who wish to continue to support working families should take their business to other Union dealerships in the area. A complete list of Union dealerships can be found HERE.