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Mechanics union rejects latest offer, auto dealership strike will continue

Members of the striking mechanics union rejected the latest contract offer from the auto dealerships' bargaining group Monday, assuring the strike will enter its seventh week.

Automobile Mechanics' Local 701, the union representing the mechanics, announced the rejection on its website.

Nearly 2,000 mechanics at almost 140 new-car dealerships throughout the Chicago area walked off the job Aug. 1, demanding a contract that resolves issues such as uncompensated work time.

The "last, best and final" contract offer from the New Car Dealership Committee proposed increasing base pay hours for journeyman service technicians (the highest classification) from 34 hours to 35 hours, according to the committee's website. It also included wage increases for all classifications of technicians and limitations on scheduling for journeyman technicians.

The base pay issue has been a major sticking point throughout negotiations. Under the previous contract, mechanics received base pay for 34 hours. The union has been asking for that to increase to 40 hours.

Though some dealerships have continued offering basic services like oil changes or tire rotations, many have had to shut down repairs completely. Some laid off nonunion employees for lack of work.

Late last month, some dealerships broke ranks with the bargaining committee and reached separate agreements with their unionized workers.

The dealership committee immediately condemned the move and filed a charge against the union, alleging it violated federal labor law. The union last week filed its own charge, accusing the committee of bargaining in bad faith.

Representatives from the union and a lawyer representing the bargaining committee did not respond to requests for comment.

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