John Humphrey, business representative and organizer for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, accuses the GAIN Group of stalling contract negotiations and “trying to gut the contract.” (CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin)

Workers at auto dealerships in Nanaimo and Victoria set up picket lines

Sixty GAIN Group detailers, technicians, service advisors went on strike Friday

GAIN Group Subaru and Mercedes-Benz dealerships in Nanaimo and Three Point Motors in Victoria are behind picket lines.

Sixty automotive detailers, technicians and service advisors who are unionized under the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, Local 456, went on strike Friday morning in a dispute with GAIN Group over wages and benefits to be included in a new labour contract.

John Humphrey, the union’s business representative and organizer, said negotiations between GAIN and the union started in late August, but the company is “trying to gut the contract” by changing contract wording and making other changes affecting overtime, sick benefits and apprenticeships. He also said the company has tried to deny him access to the unionized employees.

Humphrey said the union is asking for three-per cent wage increases for each year of the three-year contract.

“Which is average … my last six contracts here on the Island have been all three, three and threes,” he said.

He said he wants to bring the wages of GAIN Group workers in Nanaimo on par with employees in Victoria.

“We’re trying to get wage parity because what happens is they pay these guys different from what they do in Victoria and a long time ago they used to use the excuse that Victoria’s more expensive than Nanaimo,” he said. “I live in Nanaimo. We can all agree we’re just like … Victoria.”

Humphrey said workers are prepared to strike until GAIN “gets back to the table and [sits] down with us and negotiate the contract these people deserve.”

In a statement issued by the GAIN Group on Friday, the company expressed surprise at the job action and apologized to customers and employees who want to work for any inconvenience caused by the strike.

“We have been trying to reach a new collective agreement with the union that represent our service employees since September,” the statement noted. “Our technicians and other employees currently receive some of the highest wages, RRSPs and benefits of any dealership on the Island in addition to money for work boots and tools, comprehensive health and dental benefits, guaranteed hours of pay per week, and much more. They are also comparable to the top dealerships in Vancouver.

“The union demands include wage increases as high as 33 per cent in the first year with many increases greater than 20 per cent and 10 per cent. We are conscious that any significant increase in costs will lead to incresed costs to our customers.”

The statement went on to say GAIN’s wage and RRSP increase proposals are in line with the cost of living and provincial guidelines and company’s dealership proposals also recognize differences between Nanaimo and Victoria markets.

“The union has used hardball, ‘take it or leave it’ tactics in these negotiations, refusing to meet with the dealership to bargain, refusing to discuss dealership proposals, refusing to minimize inconvenience to customers, rotating strikes, and misleading employees about a range of issues. The union tactics resulted in a ‘bargaining in bad faith’ complaint being filed against the union.”

The strike does not affect GAIN Group’s other automotive brands dealerships, which are not unionized.

Keith Ladouceur, general manager of the Nanaimo Mercedes-Benz and BMW/Mini dealerships, said business continued as usual Friday “as best as we can manage.”

“It’s not a personal issue with the employees and, so far, it’s been a respectful demonstration. We’ve been able to maintain the sales side of things and, to the best of our ability, help keep the dealership moving forward,” Ladouceur said. “Keep in mind there are four dealerships on this site and only two of those dealerships have union members, so it’s really about supporting the bigger picture … our clients, who are very important to us and the business itself.”

READ ALSO: Nanaimo city councillors approve rezoning request for luxury car dealership



photos@nanaimobulletin.com
Like us on
Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Detailers, service technicians and service advisors at GAIN Group’s Subaru and Mercedes dealerships in Nanaimo and at Three Point Motors in Victoria went on strike Friday morning over what the workers’ union spokesman said were issues involving delays and attempts to change benefits, overtime requirements and other contract clauses. (CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin)

Just Posted

Advocates call safe drug supply a victory but worry about logistics in pandemic

Pandemic contributes to scarce supply, advocates worried about potential impact on the streets

Greater Victoria survey shows third of respondents did not pay, or partially paid rent for April

Survey of 70 respondents says 40 per cent expect they will not be able to pay May rent

City of Victoria looks to shift tens of millions in 2020 budget due to COVID-19

Mayor Lisa Helps offers her daily municipal, provincial and federal updates

Nanaimo, Royal Jubilee to be Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 frontline hospitals

Other Island hospitals will be admitting COVID-19 patients and will be used in a support role

BC Transit extends free fare, installs vinyl barriers in some buses

Free fare will now be offered until April 30

B.C. clears more acute hospital beds as COVID-19 case growth slows

Province holding about 40% of beds empty for peak still to come

75-year-old woman rescued from Cowichan Lake

Victim taken to hospital, but expected to recover

Not to become bored the game plan for COVID-19

Board game with an Island map developed by Island family just the remedy for filling time at home

As 500K+ apply for emergency benefit, Trudeau says aid coming for Canadians left behind

Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $2,000 per month

UPDATE: UK PM Boris Johnson moved to intensive care after COVID-19 symptoms worse

He has been quarantined in his Downing St. residence since being diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26

Travellers, travel agents ‘in agony’ over refund policies and customer service

Many Canadian carriers are offering customers flights rebookings or travel vouchers — but not refunds

Introverted and extroverted kids likely to react differently to COVID-19 restrictions

B.C. child psychologist says your parenting approach can’t be one-size fits all in social isolation

B.C. begins taking submissions for $2M COVID-19 research fund

Rural health, impact of shifting hospital resources among priorities

Most Read