Organizing Updates

Union organizing isn’t about signing cards — it’s about empowering people and changing lives.

The challenge of organizing new workers into unions is not that the workers themselves are not interested in gaining union representation. Over the past six months, more than 100 Starbucks stores have voted to unionize. The first Amazon warehouse voted “union, yes!”. Area Director for Organizing Jesse Juarez reports that he hears from techs at car dealerships on a weekly basis who want to be in a union.

No, the challenge is that employers do everything they can to delay votes,muck up who should be in the bargaining unit, intimidate workers from voting for the union, and appeal rulings of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Most importantly, once the workers have stood up to all of that and voted for the union, employers refuse to honor the wishes of their employees to bargain in good faith.

Organizing Wins

NLRB rules for Local 2182 in longrunning Tracy Toyota case

After a three-year struggle, on July 6, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Local 2182 should be recognized as the official bargaining representative of the techs at Tracy Toyota. This ruling comes after years of effort by the union and the techs at this dealership owned by former NFL player Ronnie Lott.

In May of 2020, the 19 techs at Tracy Toyota marched on the boss to demand that the dealership recognize IAM Local 2182 as their collective bargaining agent. After picketing for a week, the group offered to return to work but the employer had already hired permanent replacements.

The NLRB ultimately agreed with the union that the employer failed to recall strikers to fill vacancies created by replacement techs hired when the workers walked out for a week. At issue was a dispute over whether two people who were hired just before or just after the workers went on strike.

The NLRB ordered that the employer cease and desist from refusing to reinstate or recall former strikers to vacant positions, and from using subpoenas to coercively interrogate employees about their union or other protected activities.

The employer is further ordered to offer the former strikers who were not recalled to existing vacancies full reinstatement to their former jobs or to equivalent positions; make whole former strikers who were unlawfully denied reinstatement; compensate affected employees for the adverse tax consequences, if any, caused by receiving a lump-sum backpay award.

The three-year delay in getting the union recognized means that the majority of the original techs are no longer employed by the dealership.
Techs hired since then did not participate in the organizing drive or picket and need to learn about the value of having a union. A contract still needs to get negotiated, and this employer has shown vast disregard for meeting the union half-way.

“We will work with the current techs and do all we can to get a good contract for them,” says Area Director for Organizing Jesse Juarez. “We’ve already proven that we’re persistent,” he adds.

Union-busting at Honda of El Cerrito?

Juarez reports that he and the bargaining committee at Honda of El Cerrito have, so far, held two bargaining sessions on behalf of the 30 technicians, parts, and service advisors there. “The company hired Rob Hulting, [a notorious union-busting attorney from the Littler Mendelson firm], and they’re trying to bust the union,” Juarez says.

“The union presented the company with a proposal at the last meeting, but the dealership didn’t give us anything in return,” Juarez explains. “They’re very clearly trying to romance the people by giving them big wage increases. In fact, they hired two new parts guys at higher rates than the assistant foreman who’s training them.”

The dealership had been bought last year by the Ken Harvey Group, which owns seven dealerships, none of which are union. “They don’t have a problem paying lawyers instead of the workers,” Juarez says. “With Hulting at the helm, they’re not there to reach a contract with us.”

“Even with the sweetheart deals they’re offering some guys, they’re underpaying the rest. The parts guys even went on strike for a day in May.” Juarez says that the union will be meeting with them again. “If they don’t come to their senses, the union will take action…so stay tuned!”

Still waiting at Audi of Concord

The Labor Board issued a complaint against Audi of Concord and ordered the dealership to bargain. Guided by union-busting attorney John Boggs, the dealership refused

Juarez says that, in May, the Labor Board turned the case over to the NLRB general counsel who issued a summary judgement to force them to come to the table. “We’ll see what happens.”

Union interest grows

Juarez reports that he has heard from a variety of service writers and techs across the Bay Area who would like to have union representation. “I can’t yet report on any campaigns in the works, but I can say that there’s plenty of interest!”