In what can only be viewed as an uncommon set of circumstances for the automotive service industry, independent aftermarket shops may see a rise in business as the threat of strike action looms over key dealership organizations in Moncton, N.B.
According to Unifor which represents service workers at Acadia Toyota and Moncton Honda, there does not seem to be a path forward to avoid a strike action.
“Servicing staff are what keep dealerships running, day in and day out,” says Linda MacNeil, Unifor Atlantic Regional Director.
“What we’re seeing at two Moncton-area dealerships are employers who are digging in their heels and not responding to their service staff’s fair demands for better wages and working conditions.”
The action comes as the service sector readies itself for coming seasonal tire changes and the related uptick in vehicle maintenance activity.
Acadia Toyota workers held a vote on Monday, March 14 and delivered an strike mandate to their bargaining committee. The employer was quick to return to the table following the vote but did not fundamentally change their offer.
Moncton Honda has followed a similar pattern.
“A strike is a last resort,” said Norbert Levesque, President of Local 4501, representing workers at both dealerships. “For these workers to be frustrated enough to want to fight back speaks to how they feel they are being treated by their employers.”
“These two employers stand to lose a lot of seasonal work and must find a way to respond to these workers’ concerns about fair scheduling, a more standardized structure for assigning work, and stronger wages,” said MacNeil.
As recently as 2018, the Moncton Honda dealership was also on the brink of a strike action before a new collective agreement was signed.
At the time Unifor represented some 22 technicians, accelerated technicians, lube techs, detailers, service advisors, parts persons, shuttle drivers and lot attendants at that dealership alone.
While it is regarded as uncommon, it perhaps happens more than many might think. Unions are not uncommon at the dealership level. And in August 2021, more than 800 members of Chicago area Automobile Mechanics’ Local 701 walked off the job affecting some 50 dealerships in the area and stayed out for eight weeks before agreeing to a new contract.