THE DISTRICT 190 SPARKPLUG
GETTING IT, TOGETHER
Another one bites the dust
Besides bad karma, what do you get when you bust a union? Several union busters found out the hard way.
In 1986, Martin Swig and other dealers busted Local 1305’s strike against California Porsche-Audi, San Francis-co Lincoln Mercury, Ron Greenspan VW, and Martin Swig’s San Francisco Auto Center.
At that time, Swig carried 16 lines of cars. His fortunes started with Nissan and grew to include Rolls Royce. But, by 1993, Swig had to start shedding lines, one at a time. Eventually, the original site was bought out, and he moved to Van Ness Avenue in 1995.
Swig’s last dealership, a Chrysler store, closed last month. In its place is coming San Francisco Toyota, a union shop.
All of the other dealerships that busted the union in that fateful 1986 strike are also long gone.
Election victory at San Rafael Ford
The mechanics at San Rafael Ford voted to join Local 1414 by a vote of 9-4. In the 80s, the union was busted from this shop, then called Wayne Cross Ford. It took a pro- tracted struggle by Local 1414 to reinstate the union and get the mechanics back. Welcome new members. Negotiations for a first contract are under way now.
Was it the holiday party?
For months, District 190’s organiz- ing staff worked to bring the workers at AdTranz into the union fold. They had a strong committee and significant community support. So in December, when the vote came in at 135-79, the disappointment was heavy.
What went wrong? The Pittsburg- based company showed lots of prop- aganda films and tried to scare the
employees against voting union. They also sponsored their first-ever Christmas party, and got positive mileage out of it.
Organizing Director Don Crosatto does not believes this fight is over. “I think the public will start turning up the pressure to find out why they’ve been working for three years and still haven’t turned out a BART car, when all of the cars are supposed to be ready by 2002. They’ll learn that these
employees aren’t getting the training they need and are working under terri- ble conditions.”
Plans are to inform the Labor Councils across the Bay Area about this company to let them know what kind of outfit it is. “We’re not giving up on this shop,” said Crosatto.
Winning can be the easy part. . .
District 190’s organizing program
“I’m glad my day job is union”
Doug “the driver” Wagner and Mike Metz have both worked in the parts department at Broadway Ford for about six months. But that’s not all they do.
Doug Wagner & Mike Metz after gig at Cafe Cocomo
These two twenty-somethings have been playing music together for more than seven years, and are now part of a rock band called The Rat Bastards. Their music ranges from rockabilly to straight ahead rock ’n roll.
Mike admits, “I know if we weren’t in the union, we’d be lucky to make $5 an hour. At this point, I still need to keep my day job, but I’m glad it offers good benefits.”
Both Doug and Mike have joined the picket line at Broadway VW. According to Doug, “the best thing about a union as that people may not even know you personally, but they’ve got your back. It’s impor- tant to be part of that kind of community.”
As for the band, Doug says, “I want people to leave sweaty and hap- py, saying ‘What was I worried about.’ ”
Doug muses, “As a driver, I work with every mechanic from Oakland to Richmond, but all our gigs, so far, are in San Francisco. We want to start playing in the East Bay so everyone can hear us.”
The Rat Bastards are playing at Annie’s on January 28, and at Boomerang on February 25, both in San Francisco.
has had many successes in the past few years, with more than 500 employees at several shops voting to join the IAM. While business agents have successfully negotiated several contracts, others have been much slower in coming. Lexus of Concord (story on page 1) is, unfortunately, not an unusual situation.
Broadway VW: 18 employees here voted to join Local 1546 more than a year ago. There’s been progress, but the company just does- n’t want a contract. They especially don’t want the union pension plan. Pickets were recently spotted in front of the dealership.
Sun Valley Ford: Six service writers voted to join Local 1173. This one might be settled soon.
Napa Ford: Major progress has been made toward a contract for these ten members of Local 1173. This would mark the first union dealership in Napa since 1975.
Fremont Pontiac: After three meetings, there’s been progress on non-economic issues for the 21 new members of Local 1546, but the company is pushing hard for a flat rate policy. Negotiators expect that finding agreement on the economic issues will be even tougher.
LTD Ceramics: While the down- turn in the computer chip biz has forced major layoffs since the elec- tion was held, Local 1584 organizers believe this is the first time the lay- offs have been done fairly — by sen- iority. There’s been progress on non- economic bargaining, but this will be a tough nut.
Magnussen Toyota: After a full year of negotiations, these 15 mem- bers of Local 2182 in Auburn are driving the company crazy with on- going pickets.
Walnut Creek Honda: The serv- ice writers here have filed several unfair labor practice charges against the company, and continue to win them. But they, and Local 1173, still don’t have a contract
SHOP TALK: What’s the best thing about being a shop steward?
“Working with the union reps. It’s a good way to repay all the good the union has done for me over the past 20 years.”
“Being directly involved between the the mem- bership and manage- ment. And helping our guys with their benefits.”
“Being able to represent the guys in the shop. . . but I’ve only been a shop steward for two weeks!”
“Being able to represent my men the people I work with.”
“I can fulfill my responsi- bility to represent my co- workers and serve the union. I’m proud to have been asked.”