News

Replacement workers force end to BMW strike

After eight weeks of picketing along El Camino Real with no pay, striking service writers and mechanics at BMW of Mountain View have come to an agreement with owner AutoNation.

The workers were forced to make a compromise when an overwhelming number of replacement workers began crossing the picket line to take the union jobs. The replacement workers will stay, but many who stood faithfully on the picket line will have to go -- a total of 22 mechanics and three service writers.

Needless to say, many of the union workers were infuriated by the situation.

"I walked on the sidewalk for eight weeks without a paycheck and I got a contract for those guys inside," said mechanic Mike Romano.

The new contract was voted in last Tuesday by a slim margin among the 66 workers, with some wanting to continue the strike and hold out for a better deal. But shop foreman Gary Jones said he and others "didn't have the heart" to see more jobs lost to the replacement workers, who the workers often refer to as "strike-breakers" or "scabs."

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The contract is a major improvement on what AutoNation had been offering previously, Jones said.

"If they would have offered us this deal in the first place maybe we wouldn't have had to go through all this," he said.

While there may be slight raises for top level mechanics, the new contract brings substantial increases in health care costs, cuts to holidays and sick days, and a controversial flat rate pay system where mechanics are paid per assignment. The system already exists at all the rest of AutoNation's 300 dealerships nationwide.

Workers had voted 66-0 to go in strike, partly to preserve the dealership's hourly pay system which they said allows mechanics to take the time to do quality work.

"This was the last of the hourly shops, we were the final ones to hold out," Romano said. "This was Custer's last stand."

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Flat rate also has been blamed for causing tension among mechanics when it comes to deciding who gets assignments when work is slow. When there is no work, the company doesn't have to pay the mechanics.

Two weekends ago, union negotiators and AutoNation representatives spent 16 hours coming up with the contract, starting at 1:30 p.m. Saturday and not taking a break until it was all over at 8 a.m. Sunday. Union members ratified the deal the following Tuesday.

On Aug. 4 the workers will return to the dealership, where there likely will be tension between union men and those who crossed the picket line.

"I have to work there with I don't know how many scabs," Romano said. "Now they will be a part of the union."

There is also some anxiety about who will assign work in the new flat rate shop between the strike-breakers and loyal union workers. Unless a good system exists for distributing the work fairly, Romano said, mechanics might stay late into the evening or arrive early in the morning to catch work that comes in after hours.

Workers displaced by the strike-breakers may get jobs at other dealerships, said Jones, but it is uncertain. Jones and Romano blamed the situation on changes to federal labor law during the Reagan era.

"It doesn't seem fair to me that someone can cross the line and get a job and somebody with a lot of seniority is out on the street," Jones said. "There is something wrong with that picture."

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Replacement workers force end to BMW strike

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Mon, Jul 28, 2008, 5:15 pm

After eight weeks of picketing along El Camino Real with no pay, striking service writers and mechanics at BMW of Mountain View have come to an agreement with owner AutoNation.

The workers were forced to make a compromise when an overwhelming number of replacement workers began crossing the picket line to take the union jobs. The replacement workers will stay, but many who stood faithfully on the picket line will have to go -- a total of 22 mechanics and three service writers.

Needless to say, many of the union workers were infuriated by the situation.

"I walked on the sidewalk for eight weeks without a paycheck and I got a contract for those guys inside," said mechanic Mike Romano.

The new contract was voted in last Tuesday by a slim margin among the 66 workers, with some wanting to continue the strike and hold out for a better deal. But shop foreman Gary Jones said he and others "didn't have the heart" to see more jobs lost to the replacement workers, who the workers often refer to as "strike-breakers" or "scabs."

The contract is a major improvement on what AutoNation had been offering previously, Jones said.

"If they would have offered us this deal in the first place maybe we wouldn't have had to go through all this," he said.

While there may be slight raises for top level mechanics, the new contract brings substantial increases in health care costs, cuts to holidays and sick days, and a controversial flat rate pay system where mechanics are paid per assignment. The system already exists at all the rest of AutoNation's 300 dealerships nationwide.

Workers had voted 66-0 to go in strike, partly to preserve the dealership's hourly pay system which they said allows mechanics to take the time to do quality work.

"This was the last of the hourly shops, we were the final ones to hold out," Romano said. "This was Custer's last stand."

Flat rate also has been blamed for causing tension among mechanics when it comes to deciding who gets assignments when work is slow. When there is no work, the company doesn't have to pay the mechanics.

Two weekends ago, union negotiators and AutoNation representatives spent 16 hours coming up with the contract, starting at 1:30 p.m. Saturday and not taking a break until it was all over at 8 a.m. Sunday. Union members ratified the deal the following Tuesday.

On Aug. 4 the workers will return to the dealership, where there likely will be tension between union men and those who crossed the picket line.

"I have to work there with I don't know how many scabs," Romano said. "Now they will be a part of the union."

There is also some anxiety about who will assign work in the new flat rate shop between the strike-breakers and loyal union workers. Unless a good system exists for distributing the work fairly, Romano said, mechanics might stay late into the evening or arrive early in the morning to catch work that comes in after hours.

Workers displaced by the strike-breakers may get jobs at other dealerships, said Jones, but it is uncertain. Jones and Romano blamed the situation on changes to federal labor law during the Reagan era.

"It doesn't seem fair to me that someone can cross the line and get a job and somebody with a lot of seniority is out on the street," Jones said. "There is something wrong with that picture."

Comments

Unionworker
Old Mountain View
on Jul 29, 2008 at 7:40 pm
Unionworker, Old Mountain View
on Jul 29, 2008 at 7:40 pm

And now AutoNation is installing a $200,000 video surveillance system, but of course they could not pay for our medical benefits. For those people who think that unions have no place in the United States of America, are just fools. Eventually, when the unions have all disappeared, who will you run to. LAWYERS HA! HA! HA! For those in the community who supported us while on strike, God Bless you all!


hoq
another community
on Jul 30, 2008 at 4:56 am
hoq, another community
on Jul 30, 2008 at 4:56 am

What's "wrong" with the picture is that you stopped working and then walked out on your job, and now expect to be able to come back. For those of us not a part of the "Union Syndicate" - who don't throw tantrums when we don't get our way - the idea of refusing to work but demanding that your position be retained is ridiculous.


unionworker
Old Mountain View
on Jul 30, 2008 at 2:06 pm
unionworker, Old Mountain View
on Jul 30, 2008 at 2:06 pm

Hoq-We know who you are! You are the one's that said why are the black people so upset about sitting on the back of the bus-at least we let them on the bus. You are the one's that say people with money are good and people without money are a drain to society. You are the one's that said what are the slaves complaining about. We give them a place to sleep and eat-what more do they want! Yeah! You and your elitest attitude. People that come in and take the jobs that do not like the union but do it for their own gain. These are the people you admire. Hitler came to power because of people like you!
Keep turning your head and thinking you have all the answers. You understand everything! Get the picture!!


me
Castro City
on Jul 31, 2008 at 1:08 pm
me, Castro City
on Jul 31, 2008 at 1:08 pm

if you ask me, none of you should get your jobs back. way to go on strike and put yourselves your families and the company through heartache, only to settle for less.....


Unionworker
Old Mountain View
on Jul 31, 2008 at 8:04 pm
Unionworker, Old Mountain View
on Jul 31, 2008 at 8:04 pm

We used our right to strike when we see injustice in the workplace. As if you care about my family, the company and me! You think we should be fired! Sounds like you should be in Beijing.


me
Old Mountain View
on Jul 31, 2008 at 8:40 pm
me, Old Mountain View
on Jul 31, 2008 at 8:40 pm
me
Castro City
on Aug 1, 2008 at 9:53 am
me, Castro City
on Aug 1, 2008 at 9:53 am

you're right, i don't give a sh*t about you or your family! it was just a statement! i only care that my car gets fixed, and i hope to god it's not by one of you lazy a$$ settle for less strikers!


the truth
Sylvan Park
on Aug 1, 2008 at 10:51 am
the truth, Sylvan Park
on Aug 1, 2008 at 10:51 am

I love it -- his true colors come right out.

"you're right, i don't give a sh*t about you or your family! ... i only care that my car gets fixed"

A stereotype BMW driver -- so much less classy than the guys who fix their cars.


Ali a Proud Union Member Chaper 173
another community
on Aug 1, 2008 at 6:25 pm
Ali a Proud Union Member Chaper 173, another community
on Aug 1, 2008 at 6:25 pm

I have nothing but respect for the workers and their families that went out on strike at BMW & Mini of Mountain View. I am the wife of a Machinists Union member and a CSEA Union member myself and have been on the strike line before. It is a hard thing to go through, but very necessary. It is only the uninformed person who would attack a person for standing up for themselves and their fellow workers. We are a country that was found by people who were feed up with being mistreated and had the balls to say enough is enough.

I slaute each and everyone of the mechanics and service writers for saying enough and stick up for themselves.


Unionworker
Old Mountain View
on Aug 1, 2008 at 8:01 pm
Unionworker, Old Mountain View
on Aug 1, 2008 at 8:01 pm

Thanks to the California School Employee's Association members' kind words of encouragement. It was very difficult to be on strike but very necessary for future contract negotiations. I think the next contract will go much smoother because of the respect that was gained by the strike.


Rusty
Shoreline West
on Aug 4, 2008 at 5:37 pm
Rusty, Shoreline West
on Aug 4, 2008 at 5:37 pm

Rich getting richer, rest going backward. Story everywhere..


Scab
another community
on Aug 15, 2008 at 11:37 am
Scab, another community
on Aug 15, 2008 at 11:37 am

"And now AutoNation is installing a $200,000 video surveillance system,That miney could be saved if they could trust you I would never think about ahving service done there


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