Technicians, service advisors, parts workers and office staff at the Steele Honda dealership in St. John’s walked off the job on July 25.
About 40 unionized workers are trying to push back against their employer’s demands for cuts and concessions, says Teamsters, Local 855.
The main issue is management’s push to pay car technicians a flat-rate for repairs instead of an hourly rate. That means workers would earn a pre-determined sum for each type of repair performed, regardless of the amount of time it takes to get the job done, says the union.
Most of the dealerships in Newfoundland and Labrador use the hourly rate. The flat-rate system could lead to technicians losing money for putting in more time to work on repairs that are more complex than usual. It could also encourage them to rush through tasks to get as much done as possible, a position which the striking workers do not want to be placed in, says Teamsters.
Complicating matters is the employer’s proposal to hire less fully trained journeyperson technicians, replacing them with apprentices. Under the plan, up to half of the technicians at the dealership would be apprentices. It has the potential to make repairs take even longer, says the union.
Finally, the dealership also wants to slash wage rates of all future technicians by eight per cent, effectively introducing a two-tier system in the workplace. All new hires would also have three less sick days, says Teamsters.
While the demands for concessions mainly affect about 20 technicians, the other unionized workers at the dealership have opted to support the strike, fearing they might be next, says the union.
The union asked for a two per cent raise and a small RRSP program, says Teamsters.
Teamsters, Local 855, which represents the striking workers at Steele Honda, represents almost 450 workers at fifteen other dealerships across the province. The local also represents truck drivers, couriers, construction workers and many others.
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