By COLIN STAUB
Mechanics and lube technicians at Jim Fisher Volvo have asked for a union election to certify their decision to join Machinists District Lodge W24.
After a majority of the 10 mechanics at the West Burnside Street dealership signed union cards, supporters delivered the union notice to Fisher’s service manager Jan. 28 accompanied by Jon Irvine, lead organizer for District Lodge W24.
Irvine said the workers are a young, diverse crew who contacted the union the first week of January, interested in unionizing for more certainty in job advancement, among other points.
Volvo dealership workers pay to go to a Volvo mechanic school and are promised a well-paying job or apprenticeship once they graduate, Irvine said. But often workers get out of school and end up making slightly over minimum wage, without a clear path for career advancement, and they face costs like buying their own tools.
“They want wage progressions. They want to know what those wages are. They want stipends for their tools, tool insurance,” Irvine said. Those are typical at union shops, he added.
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers represents many car dealerships, including roughly 300 in Northern California, Irvine said. He said the Machinists used to represent a handful of dealerships in the Portland area, but that they’ve closed down. An Oregon AFL-CIO representative said the federation isn’t aware of any currently operating union dealerships in Portland.
Machinists District Lodge W24 asked the company for voluntary recognition, or at least a stipulated election agreement, through which the union and company would agree on certain terms of the election. As of press time Fisher had not officially responded to the petition.
Irvine said the company will have to post notice of the union effort by Feb. 4, and that if the election is challenged, there would be a hearing Feb. 17.
In the meantime, District Lodge W24 has assigned the workers a business representative to work on contract proposals, in addition to gearing up for the election.
“We’re going to start putting together a contract, so we win this election, we put in a demand to bargain when we win it, get right to the table and we’re ready,” Irvine said.