Strike ends… with help from union members and community
By MARY ANN HOLLEY
International Association of Machinists District 9 Business Representative Dwight Terry said the recent strike at Poage Chevrolet in Wentzville was short-lived, but amazing in the way it all went down.
The car dealership changed hands four years ago when Jason Poage bought the business from Cox and Cohea, Terry said. At the time, the Machinists District 9 contract was still in place, but when it expired Oct. 31, Poage decided he wanted to lower the pay scale and pay structure for two service advisors in the shop. Others in the shop would be relatively unscathed, he said.
“But what was really incredible and showed the solidarity of our membership so strongly was amazing,” Terry said. “The contract covers 19 members in service, the body shop and the parts department, and those 19 members stood in solidarity, even though just two members would have been hurt.”
Directing Business Representative Mark Conner said when those 19 members voted down the contract, it was a show of support that a union representative dreams about.
“We talk about union solidarity all of the time, but not everyone gets a chance to practice what they preach,” Conner said. “I am so proud of these union brothers.”
Terry said when Poage wanted to make changes, the guys never hesitated to vote down the contract and set up a picket on Monday, Dec. 12.
Poage Shop Steward Brian Hillstead said support shown to them from numerous other union brothers and sisters, people from the community and even local businesses was outstanding during the week-long strike.
Sugarfire barbecue restaurant in O’Fallon delivered a hot meal to the strikers. United Autoworkers 2250 at the Wentzville Assembly Center brought coffee, pizza, and were very supportive, Hillstead said. The IBEW Ameren workers stopped by with coffee and numerous other union members stopped by to offer their support.
“This is the first strike for most of us and we are overwhelmed by the generosity of our brothers and sisters,” Hillstead said. “Everything from hot food and drinks, to the cash collections and even walking with us… We have learned what union brotherhood is about and won’t forget it when others are in need of our support. It was cold on the picket line, but our hearts were warmed by the generosity. We can’t thank everyone enough.”
Terry said the strike was settled on Friday, Dec. 16 after the company called and asked for a meeting. Terry said the negotiation team met Friday morning and worked out a new proposal. The guys voted to overwhelmingly to accept the contract on Sunday.
“I am pleased with the outcome and especially the way the guys stuck together to support the two service advisors — to protect the pay structure for two service advisors,” Terry said.
“There were other things, but the biggest change was for two of those guys. They stuck together and we got it changed. We were able to negotiate and get it changed, and the guys accepted it.”
The Machinists union and workers at Poage Chevrolet urge you to visit the dealership at 851 West Pearce Ave., Wentzville, for your vehicle needs. Shop union, knowing you are protecting the jobs of hard-working union brothers and sisters