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Contract finalized with area's unionized technicians

November 15, 2010

Several lingering matters have been settled related to the new four-year collective bargaining agreement with area technicians organized by the Automobile Mechanics’ Local 701 union.

Technicians ratified the tentative agreement in late July; the agreement took effect Aug. 1.

David Radelet, a partner in Franczek Radelet, PC, summarized the final points in the contract to be settled:

Contract Finalization and Distribution.  Negotiators have completed the process of converting the language of the tentative agreements into the new contract, reviewing the proofs and finalizing the contract. The contract is at the printer, and Radelet said the new contract booklet would be finished by mid-September.

The Union will distribute the new contract to all dealers together with the new participation agreements for the benefit funds, collecting dealer signatures as they do so. Radelet has prepared a cover memo for the Union to use in this process so that the dealers all know it’s OK to sign.

Side Agreements. Thirty-seven dealers identified side agreements of various types that they wanted to renegotiate with the Union. This process started once the Standard Agreement was finalized.

Twenty-one of the 37 dealers ultimately decided not to proceed with negotiations on those issues, electing instead to keep their side deals in place. Of the remaining 16 dealers, 15 have been resolved, and the vast majority of those were resolved in favor of the dealerships.

Certifications and Training One of the highlights of the new contract is that the dealers’ negotiators finally broke through on the issue of requiring certifications (ASE and other) and training for the techs.

One requirement of the new contract is that current techs (service, body shop, and apprentices) must be notified in writing of the certification requirements (not training requirements, as that would be too cumbersome) "within 60 working days of the effective date of the new agreement." To ensure that all dealers are taking full advantage of these new rights, Franczek Radelet prepared a recommended notice form which the firm will send to all dealers this month.

Body Shop Techs Incentive Percentage Pay. Certain body shop techs are paid on an incentive percentage basis. The new agreement provides that any dealer who pays body shop techs incentive percentage pay which exceeds 60/40 (60 for the dealership) has the right to vote that issue separately.

Radelet said his firm has communicated with all the dealers who he knows have body shop techs and none of them are taking advantage of this opportunity.

This probably is because the vast majority of body shop techs are paid either hourly or on a different percentage basis that is more favorable to the dealers, said Radelet.

Joliet and Chicago Heights Negotiations. These negotiations technically are outside the "jurisdiction" of the CATA’s New-Car Dealer Committee. But Radelet said he discussed them several times during NCDC meetings, and they do relate directly to the Standard Agreement negotiations, so he wanted to provide an update.

Those negotiations have now been finalized at all dealerships except one, and new agreements have been voted and ratified at all locations.

This year’s negotiations improved on the process in 2005, when negotiations stretched into December before being resolved.

Also, the dealers agreed to change the expiration date of their contracts to July 31; therefore, in the future, these dealerships will be on the same bargaining cycle as the bigger group and the need for separate negotiations will be eliminated.

The negotiations at these locations were focused exclusively on bringing those agreements in line with the Standard Agreement to the greatest extent possible. Although a few differences remain (e.g., a couple of those dealerships participate in the National IAM Pension Plan as well as the 701 Pension Plan), those differences will be treated as "side agreements" in future negotiations.