Mercedes mechanics in Surrey hold a rally in support of a limited strike

They are pushing for their first union contract, negotiations for which have dragged on for more than a year.

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More than a dozen mechanics at Mercedes-Benz dealership Open Road in Surrey plan to gather outside the car park on Friday to push for their first union deal, talks of which have dragged on for more than a year.

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In their support, the BC Federation of Labor has called for a boycott of the trader.

“We know they can afford to pay our members a decent raise, but they just refuse,” said Jason Woods, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 400, which represents the 14 mechanics.

“The trader has refused to negotiate in good faith, belittling its dedicated workers and harassing them into trying to decertify the union. That’s a full year spent by a company dealing in a luxury product and refusing to pay their own workers an average industry salary.”

It’s been years since Open Road Mercedes-Benz mechanics have received any sort of raise, Woods said.

“People don’t call unions if they’re treated well and paid well. IIf they aren’t paid well, aren’t treated fairly, and there isn’t justice in the workplace, then we get the call.”

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Open Road has other dealerships in Metro Vancouver and Washington that sell 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 inception in 2000, OpenRoad Auto Group has grown to become the province’s top-selling automobile dealership.

The Surrey mechanics got organized in November 2020 and have been trying to negotiate their first contract for almost as long. Wages, pension contributions, benefits and vacation time are the issues preventing a deal, Woods said.

His place also represents mechanics at another auto company on the lower mainland, where they make more than $49 an hour.

From left: Marcus Lucarino, Brayden Maizur, Michael Williams, Travis Woodliffe, Jace Cambell, Terance Yau, Tony Trinh, Steve Mulnar in front of the dealership.
From left: Marcus Lucarino, Brayden Maizur, Michael Williams, Travis Woodliffe, Jace Cambell, Terance Yau, Tony Trinh, Steve Mulnar in front of the dealership. Photo by Francis Georgian /PNG

The mechanics in Surrey don’t expect to catch up on a nearly $9 pay increase from their current hourly rate of $40.50, despite doing exactly the same work on the exact same vehicles as other mechanics represented by ILWU Local 400 will.

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They would like to meet midway at 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 reporting that its revenue has increased more than 40 percent over the past year.”

In addition to wages, workers are resisting a company attempt to increment wages by paying some mechanics less than others doing the same work, Woods said.

“People in our communities need food on the table and pay in their pockets, especially this year. Right now, open road is a dead end for workers.”

Christian Chia, owner of Open Road Auto Group, was in meetings and unavailable, but spokeswoman Laura Ballance said the company values ​​its employees and recognizes their efforts, particularly over the past two years of the pandemic.

“Right now, Mercedes-Benz Surrey’s top priority is to return to the negotiating table to reach an agreement,” Ballance said. “We hope that thoughtful and meaningful negotiations will take place leading to a solution.”

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