Dealership group wants mechanics back to work by Monday, proposes new agreement

In hopes of having their mechanics back at work by Monday, the bargaining group representing new-car dealerships affected by a nearly eight-week strike has presented a proposed agreement to the union.

The terms are similar to those the Automobile Mechanics' Local 701, the union representing the mechanics, has been offering to dealerships that broke ranks with the bargaining group, said Mark Bilek, spokesman for the New Car Dealership Committee.

A union representative did not respond immediately Friday to requests for comment, but Local 701 said in a post on its website that it was reviewing the proposed agreement.

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. Since then, many dealerships have had to shut down repairs completely.

Late last month, some dealerships started reaching separate agreements with their unionized workers. About 30 dealerships have signed interim agreements with their employees, according to a post on the union's website.

The bargaining group presented its "last, best and final" contract offer to the union last week. Union members rejected the offer in a vote Monday.

That offer proposed increasing base pay hours for journeyman service technicians (the highest classification) from 34 hours to 35 hours, according to the committee's website. The base pay issue has been a major sticking point throughout negotiations.

Bilek declined to comment on the specifics of the agreement. He said if the union votes for the proposed agreement, it could be the first step in finalizing a contract.

"We'd love to get everyone back to work by Monday," Bilek said. "There (are) conversations going on to try to get it done."

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