Rockford dealership sends letter of consequences to striking mechanics

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - A Rockford car dealership has issued its response to some of the 2,000 auto mechanics who went on strike this week at 130 new car dealerships across the Chicago area.

Napleton Cadillac issued a letter of consequences to those involved in the work stoppage at their dealership.

"Effective immediately you will receive a COBRA letter, as we will not be paying for your health insurance," the letter states. "You will be responsible for the premiums in their entirety."

The dealership said it has also placed ads for replacement technicians and those who are replaced will be notified.

"After you are replaced, should you make an unconditional offer to return to work you will be placed on a preferential hire list should an opening occur," the letter reads.

The dealership also suggested mechanics make arrangements to pick up their tool boxes from the shop.

The letter concludes by saying, "it is unfortunate that you have chosen to strike, but that is the choice you have made."

Napleton Cadillac said it still plans to meet with Automobile Mechanics’ Local 701 on August 15 to continue negotiations.

The union and and the Chicago Automobile Trade Association have met 16 times since coming to the bargaining table in mid-June. The Chicago New Car Dealer Committee is negotiating on behalf of the trade association.

Sam Cicinelli, Local 701’s directing business representative, said the union took concessions in their last two contracts to save jobs during tough economic times.

“Now the technicians are simply looking for a fair share of the industry growth,” he said.

The union wants a guaranteed 40-hour work week, better schedules and higher apprentice wages to attract talent to the industry. The trade association says the mechanics’ demands are too expensive for dealerships to stay competitive with franchise service shops like Jiffy Lube.

According to Trade Association communications director Mark Bilek, the sides agreed on some points before the union voted on Sunday to strike, including 5 percent annual pay raises, full pension payments and full family health care.

Bilek said car owners in need of immediate service should call their dealership ahead of time to arrange repairs. A list of affected dealers is posted on the union’s website.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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