Fourteen mechanics at this dealership owned by famed 49ers Cornerback/Safety Ronnie Lott went on strike in mid-May. “That’s the day we marched on the boss to tell him that 100% of his mechanics wanted a union and that we had filed a petition with the Labor Board for them to join the IAM,” says Area Director for Organizing Jesse Juarez.
“The issues that compelled the organizing drive were that that the employer wasn’t complying with COVID guidelines; he wasn’t providing proper PPE, wasn’t cleaning the cars thoroughly before and after the mechanics worked on them, and the new service manager was a bully, threatening to replace the mechanics. So they walked off the job on May 15.”
Juarez says that the following Tuesday, the employer responded by hiring union buster John Boggs who asserted that the mechanics were striking for economic reasons, which gave the employer leeway to hire replacement workers.
“This employer is playing hardball,” says Juarez. “They’re trying to open up the bargaining unit to 29 other employees, which would require a hearing. But due to COVID, the Labor Board had been closed for months.”
“The employer is trying to crush these workers during a pandemic,” Juarez adds. “We offered to return to work but they locked out some of the guys. We’re fighting that as an illegal lock-out.”
Shop Foreman Kevin Humeston has plenty of health and safety complaints. “The facility is not safe to work in during a pandemic. We don’t have proper PPE. They’re not following safetey protocols. Each car should be sanitized before and after we work on it; they need to disinfect, cover seats and steering wheels. And, they’re not fixing equipment so we’re working in unsafe conditions.”
Humeston says that management is so bad that in the nine years he’s worked there, he’s already on his tenth service manager. “I want to do good work, but they’re making it impossible.”
The shop’s other foreman, Tyrone Jackson, has been there for six years. “The union drive has been brewing for a while,” he says. “There’s been wage theft, our 401Ks are screwed up and the cost of our benefits is through the roof. We’ve had enough.”
Jackson added that the new service manager is not knowledgeable about Toyota’s ways and policies. “He’s been forcing us to do warranty work improperly.”
“This is all about respect and dignity. People are sick and tired of employers not taking their grievances seriously,” Juarez added.
At presstime, the workers were still picketing. The company is still trying to dilute the unit and delay the election. But, the Labor Board is back in business and will be holding a Zoom hearing to figure out the election process once and for all.
Ryder – Stockton
The workers at Ryder in Stockton decided they wanted a union and the IAM launched its organizing campaign on St. Patrick’s Day.
Ninety percent of the 35 or so mechanics and fuelers joined Jesse Juarez to approach management on March 17. The group tried to organize in April, 2019 with the Teamsters but, before an election could be held, they gave the company another chance and the Teamsters backed off.
“Somehow our intentions leaked out and management was expecting us,” says Juarez. “These are the same HR people that we just completed bargaining with for a five-year contract in Benicia and Hayward. They admitted we have a great relationship, but they refused to recognize the union in Stockton.”
This group’s main complaints are COVID safety and getting bullied by management. The labor board was closed when the union filed its petition. “Getting an election took a while, because everybody was working remotely.
“When we finally got in front of the labor board at the end of March, we requested a mail ballot while Ryder insisted on holding an in-person election,” Juarez explains. “The company started to hold group meetings trying to divide and conquer. Fortunately, due to the pandemic, the labor board agreed to a mail ballot.
The mail ballots went out on May 4. The count took place on May 29. And the result: “The union won overwhelmingly! I guaranteed it,” says Juarez.
“Even though Ryder agrees that we have a great working relationship at their other unionized facilities, they launched a terrible anti-union campaign at the Stockton shop,” says Juarez. “We’ll be dealing with five terminations and we have 13 board charges pending. “
The union will get shop access to do inspections on June 29 and bargaining dates have been set for July 13-14.
El Cajon Honda
Back in February, Juarez was meeting with a group techs at El Cajon Honda, part of a superstore with several dealerships, and they were ready to launch an organizing campaign. But when COVID struck, the group put the drive on hold. However, not long into the pandemic, the techs came to feel that employer wasn’t meeting COVID guidelines; they were running out of hand sanitizer, weren’t given gloves and the cars were not getting properly sanitized before the techs were slated to work on them. One person at the dealership tested positive for COVID, but the rest of the workers were kept in the dark about it until much later.
“Everyone put on their union buttons and IAM masks and we went to talk to the boss on a Friday morning in April,” Juarez says. “We walked out by 10 a.m.” Juarez explained that his goal is to make the employer resolve issues right away and if they don’t, to walk out. “We’re just not wasting any more time. Workers health and safety can’t wait.”
Warren Nelson, a union-buster from Fisher & Phillips was hired to crush the workers’ rights. His latest tactic is to include 33 Toyota techs who work in the next dealership.
“We’re working to create a leadership group at El Cajon to build cohesion among the crew,” adds Area Director Kevin Kucera. “The techs communicate seamlessly using WhatsApp on their phones and they can let us know if employees have questions or concerns. There’s no substitute for the in-person meeting, but in this COVID environment, this is a great tool—especially with the younger guys.”
At presstime, Juarez says that they’re waiting for a decision from the Labor Board about who is in the unit. He expects to hold the election soon.
Lexus of San Diego
A union election was held here in February, but the 25-2 vote wasn’t convincing to Lexus management. Just as COVID hit, the Company hired union buster John Boggs to make numerous frivolous objections and appeals.
“Of course, all the charges they filed were denied and dropped,” says Juarez. “But we offered to do a re-run election so they couldn’t keep delaying the process.”
A mail ballot was sent out at the end of May, and the count took place in mid-June. Even though the company had laid off several folks, everyone, including those off work, were eligible to vote.
And the result: this time it was 100% for the union. The company has one week to appeal the election, but at presstime, they hadn’t yet done so. “That’s the good news,” says Juarez. “The better news is that they’ve since recalled several furloughed workers.”
The union held an “Armour Globe” election on March for the service advisors at Concord Toyota. (This is the process when other workers at the same facility are already in the same union—in this case the parts and service techs.)
The union won the election 4-3. There had been one challenged ballot, which when opened later, was a Yes vote, meaning that the final tally was 5-3 for the union. The Labor Board certified the election.
The company filed an appeal to include another service advisor in the unit, but even if he voted no, the union would still have a majority. “This is all about playing games to delay the inevitable,” says Juarez. “They’re delaying justice, even after a clear election win for the union.” Stay tuned.