Sault Ste. Marie, ON – The latest contract offer from the three auto dealerships involved in a lengthy lockout with members of IAMAW Local Lodge 2332, is a blatant attempt to divide the union. “Management is lying when it says its latest offer contained no concessions,” explained a frustrated IAMAW Business Representative Rob Thompson.
“They have claimed to have offered a three percent wage increase but that’s only for mechanics. When you look at what they offered general garage workers it works out to a reduction of 74 cents per hour on their pension contribution or an eight per cent cut. In simple terms, they’re trying to divide the union membership.”
“Management has offered a $300 signing bonus in lieu of retroactive pay but if we signed a deal tomorrow, the retro pay for a mechanic would be over $400,” explained Thompson. Another stumbling block in the negotiations is the company refusal to even discuss a basic dental plan. “The plan we’re proposing will cover 80 per cent of basic costs with the employees picking up the remaining 20 per cent but they won’t provide us with their costing figures.”
Another bone of contention concerns the length of the probation period for newly hired workers. It now stands at 100 continuous working days and Thompson says that’s too long. “It amounts to inequality for new hires,” explained Thompson. “They have no benefits and no representation for what amounts to five and half months. They can be let go after ninety nine continuous working days with no recourse or benefits and that’s just wrong.”
Superior Dodge Chrysler, Highland Ford and Prouse Motors locked out the 39 mechanics, paint shop workers, body men, parts department staff, apprentices, general helpers and clerical staff on December 21, 2009, for refusing to sign a new collective agreement.
“Management has called this a generous offer but in reality it’s anything but generous,” added Thompson. The IAMAW represents five auto dealerships in the steel city.