Some Chicago stores leave bargaining committee as mechanics’ strike lingers

Some employees and dealerships involved in a Chicago-area auto strike have decided to leave the Chicago New Car Dealer Committee as the organization remains locked in work contract negotiations with their union.

The employees in question work at 56 dealerships that are part of the NCDC. They also belong to Local 701, part of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers trade union. They have been on strike since Aug. 2, just after the majority of them voted on Aug. 1 to reject a new four-year work contract proposal offered by the NCDC on July 31.

About 11 NCDC stores previously indicated that they no longer want to be in the NCDC, which dropped the total number of dealers in the NCDC to 45. Seven more broke this week while two others “signed an agreement with the union and were released due to special circumstances,” the union said. That leaves the NCDC with 36 dealerships this week, according to updates on Local 701’s website and Facebook page.

The number of members on strike has decreased because some dealerships chose to bring back their technicians through an “interim agreement,” Sam Cicinelli, a directing business representative and organizer for Local 701, wrote in an update.

“We are happy to see dealers recognize a fair contract that is beneficial to the Union members and their families,” said union spokesman Ronnie Gonzalez.

The NCDC offered another counterproposal to the union on Sept. 7. The proposal was marked final, according to Mark Bilek, a spokesman for the Chicago Automobile Trade Association.

At the crux of the argument are a few remaining issues linked to the union’s health and welfare fund. The union wants the NCDC to match fund contributions that are being made by non-NCDC union stores.

The NCDC has indicated it wants to make lower contributions based on the recommendations of the fund’s actuaries. Bilek said the NCDC has changed the work contract proposal’s language to allow them to initially make the lower contributions, but increase them if the fund begins losing money.

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