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February 1999

January 13 support rally attracts more than 100 union members.

dealership. Additional charges are being heard by the NLRB in March.

Several area mechanics joined the the 7 a.m. picket on their way to work. When asked what he had that the Lexus employees didn’t, John Merryfield from Concord Nissan responded, “we have a contract. . . and we get respect.”

“We’ve got to show the conglom- erate dealerships how important the union is to us,” said Rick Rodgers from Diablo Lincoln-Mercury. “I give these guys a lot of credit for fighting for the union. It really takes courage.”

Jobs on the line

The mechanics will not be eligi- ble for strike benefits and are literal- ly putting their jobs on the line to achieve a first agreement.

“These are skilled workers who want to be working, not picketing,” said Dutton. “They bring years of experience and thousands of dollars worth of tools to every car they work on. But instead of respect and a fair contract, all they’ve gotten are delays.”

After three hours of picketing in the chilly morning air, the company called a “citizens arrest” of organiz- er Jesse Juarez. Charged with dis-

turbing the peace, Juarez was held by local police for one hour, and immediately returned to the picket line upon his release.

County solidarity

The Contra Costa Labor Council called for a mass picket, seeking support from unions across the county. Over 100 people came out on January 13 to support the Lexus mechanics.

According to John Dalrymple, Secretary-Treasurer of the Council, “this problem goes beyond this one shop. We have to make sure that when workers vote to unionize, they can actually get a contract.”

“I don’t know how to run any other kind of shop than a union shop”

Terry Pitts, Painter

Local 1546 shop steward Dave Massetti

Henry Hanzel with one of the 13 tow trucks his father designed and built.

Howard Scott, Body man

Denny Vargas, Painter

Bodyman Warren Leslie, still going strong at 72!

Body-man Marty Honda

n 1936, when the IAM first start- ed unionizing auto repair shops, an organizer went into Hanzel’s Body Works in Oakland. He told then-owner Sigmund Hanzel about the benefits of being a union shop. I

Hanzel thought about it for a minute and agreed to a contract. “But,” warned the organizer, “you’ll have to pay the guys $1.25 an hour.”

Sigmund scratched his chin and said “If the guys are willing to take less, then it sounds fine with me.” At the time, Hanzel’s was paying $1.50 an hour.

But, he didn’t make the guys take less. His shop was one of Local 1546’s first, and grandson Henry Hanzel has inherited the union tradi-

tion from Sigmund and his father Ed.

The shop was first opened in 1924, and moved to it’s current location on 23rd Street near what’s now Oakland’s Auto Row in 1946.

Henry Hanzel says “I don’t know how to run any other kind of shop than a union shop. The union hall is a good source for employees, although I can’t say we have much turnover. The biggest benefit of the union is that we have a fair and even working agree- ment—for me and for the employees.”

Now in the second year of a five year contract with Local 1546, Hanzel recalls that “negotiations were low key. We pay the same wages as the other union shops, so that keeps us on an even footing.”

Shop steward Dave Massetti said “This proves that you can have a small shop, be union and still be suc- cessful.”

And business has been pretty good at Hanzel’s. With four body men, three painters, and three people staffing the office, they keep busy doing the body work for Negherbon and other independent dealerships in the area.

When an IBEW member over- heard this interview, he interrupted to ask if he heard right, and was this a union shop? “Cool, that’s the way it should be,” he said as he made an appointment for service.


ASSOCIATED THIRD PARTY ADMINISTRATORS (ATPA) is the administrator for the Automotive Industries Pension and Welfare Trust Funds and Machinist Health Plans (Active and Retiree).

You can contact us at 510-836-2484.

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