At least 34 union auto technicians at Mercedes-Benz of San Diego went on strike as the two sides negotiate a new contract.
Technicians from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local Lodge 1484 walked off the job on June 17. Ten technicians remain on the job, a dealership spokesman said.
Pedro Gomez, a technician at the dealership and shop steward for Local Lodge 1484, said the union had been treated unfairly during negotiations by the dealership's owner, Penske Automotive Group Inc.
"We're in the middle of negotiating our third contract. They wanted to take away some of our benefits, including our weekly guarantee," Gomez said. "We feel like it's to the point where they want to intimidate us into submission so that we'll accept the deal we got."
Anthony Pordon, executive vice president at Penske Automotive, said the dealership has adjusted to the shortage of workers at the store.
The dealership offered a 15.1 percent pay increase for master technicians and a 10 percent increase for certified technicians along with annual increases thereafter, Gomez said. Union techs make between $30 and $34 an hour, Gomez said.
"We're committed to treating all of our employees fairly on all issues, including compensation. We are trying to work in the best interests of our customers," Pordon said. "Obviously, we've had to adjust our ability to service some of our customers in ways to meet their demands still. We've had to adjust appointment times and things like that accordingly."
Gomez said the strike will look to earn the respect of the dealership.
"This is [an unfair labor practice] strike, it's not economic. It's not just about money. It's about intimidation that's them basically trying to cripple us and make us feel fearful," Gomez said.
According to Gomez, negotiations between Mercedes-Benz of San Diego and the union are set to resume on July 13.
Penske Automotive ranks No. 3 on the Automotive News list of the top 150 U.S. dealership groups with 195,384 new-vehicle deliveries in 2021.