Chicago-area mechanics approve contract, ending almost 7-week strike

Mechanics at Chicago-area auto dealerships will be back at work Monday morning after approving a four-year contract Sunday and ending a strike that was about to begin its eighth week. 

The walkout, which started Aug. 1, involved nearly 2,000 mechanics at almost 140 new-car dealerships throughout the Chicago area. Many dealerships had to shut down repairs completely during the strike, and customers in need of warranty work or other more complicated repairs had to seek services elsewhere.

“The dealers are relieved to have the work stoppage behind them,” said Mark Bilek, spokesman for the dealerships’ bargaining committee, in an emailed statement. “They are ready to welcome their service customers beginning Monday morning.”

The offer voted on Sunday was the fourth since the strike began, according to a news release from Automobile Mechanics’ Local 701.

The contract addresses a number of requests from the union that became major sticking points during negotiations. Mechanics will see their base pay increase two hours under the new contract and see wage increases. “Did we get it all? No,” said Local 701 spokesman Sam Cicinelli in a news release. “But we made improvements and moved in the right direction.”

The terms of the contract were similar to those in separate agreements that about 70 dealerships entered into with union members after breaking ranks with the bargaining committee, according to the union.

The bargaining group, called the New Car Dealership Committee, presented the agreement to the union last week, days after the union rejected its “last, best and final” offer.

During the strike, some dealerships laid off employees outside of their service departments for lack of work.


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