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Chicago-area car dealers, mechanics settle contract

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CHICAGO — Mechanics at Chicago-area new-car dealerships returned to work on Sept. 19 after agreeing to a new four-year contract, ending a strike that lasted about seven weeks.

The strike, which began Aug. 1, involved about 2,000 mechanics at 129 dealership locations in the Chicago area operated by more than 100 dealers. The collective bargaining agreement, known as the Standard Automotive Agreement, or the "blue book," expired on July 31.

The walkout stalled major auto repairs at the affected stores.

"We're extremely happy that the strike's over but extremely disappointed for the inconvenience that was put upon the dealers, the striking workers and consumers," a spokesman for Automobile Mechanics' Local 701 said, according to a report by the Chicago Tribune.

At the top of union's list of sticking points were work schedules, uncompensated time and lack of a clear path toward a career in the profession.

Mechanics' base pay will increase two hours under the new contract, and they will receive wage increases, the Tribune reported.

Chicago-area car dealers bargained collectively with the union under the auspices of the New Car Dealer Committee (NCDC), which said its dealers in the “ultra-competitive” Chicago market face intense pressure to compete from non-union franchised dealers as well as national chain stores such as Jiffy Lube, Pep Boys, Midas, and similar shops with lower fixed costs.

In addition, the NCDC said, auto makers pressure dealers by reducing the amount they will reimburse the dealers for warranty work.

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