They are pushing for their first union contract, talks of which have dragged on for more than a year.
More than a dozen mechanics at the Open Road Mercedes-Benz dealership in Surrey plan to gather outside the car lot on Friday to push for their first union contract, talks of which have dragged on for more than a year.
In their support, the BC Federation of Labor has called for a boycott of the dealership.
“We know they can pay our members a decent raise, they just refuse to do it,” said Jason Woods, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 400, which represents the 14 mechanics.
“The dealership has refused to bargain in good faith, disparaged its dedicated workers and harassed them with efforts to decertify the union. That is a full year spent by a company that deals in a luxury product and refuses to pay its own workers an industry-average wage.”
It’s been years since Open Road Mercedes-Benz mechanics have had a raise of any kind, Woods said.
“People, you know, don’t call the unions when they’re well treated and well paid. meIt is when they are not paid well, they are not treated properly and there is no fairness in the workplace, that is when we get the phone call.”
open road has other car dealerships dotted around Metro Vancouver and Washington, selling brands like BMW, Bentley, Jaguar/Land Rover, Lamborghini, Lexus, Porsche, Rolls-Royce, and McLaren, to name a few.
According to the company’s website, since its launch in 2000, OpenRoad Auto Group has grown to become the highest volume automotive retailer in the province.
Surrey mechanics organized in November 2020 and have been trying to negotiate their first contract for almost as long. Salaries, pension contributions, benefits and vacation time are the issues holding up a deal, Woods said.
His local also represents mechanics at another Lower Mainland auto group, where they earn more than $49 an hour.
Surrey mechanics don’t expect to catch up on a nearly $9 raise from their current wage of $40.50 an hour, even though they do the exact same job on the same vehicles as other ILWU Local 400-represented mechanics.
They would like to meet halfway around the $45.50 mark, Woods said.
“In a time of inflation and widespread labor shortages, it is ridiculous that owners refuse to recognize the basic needs of the skilled workers who service the cars their customers depend on.
“This is a company that reports that its revenue increased more than 40 percent last year.”
In addition to wages, workers are resisting an attempt by the company to level wages by paying some mechanics less than others doing the same job, Woods said.
“People in our communities need food on the table and money in their pockets, especially this year. Right now Open Road is a dead end for workers.”
Owner of Open Road Auto Group Christian Chia he was in meetings and unavailable, but spokeswoman Laura Ballance said the company values its employees and acknowledges their efforts, especially during the past two years of the pandemic.
“Right now, Mercedes-Benz Surrey’s top priority is to get back to the negotiating table to reach an agreement,” Ballance said. “Our hope is that a thoughtful and meaningful negotiation will take place that will produce a resolution.”