Auto mechanics won’t be bulldozed off the picket line

EAST DUNDEE, Ill. – Auto mechanics of Automobile Mechanics Local 701 (IAM) have been on strike at Al Piemonte Chevrolet for a fair contract for over three months.

I had a chance to speak with the striker’s Union Business Agent, Bill LePinske.

Bill had just returned from court the previous day, and related the events leading up to filing for action against the dealership, particularly being assaulted with a small bulldozer while East Dundee Police watched without interfering.

When being cross-examined, Bill was asked the following:

Q: “So you saw the bulldozer coming at you?”

Bill’s answer, ” Yes.”

Q: “Did you fear for your safety as the bulldozer approached?”

A: “Yes.”

Q: ” But you stood in place as you were pushed out of the way by the bulldozer?”

A: “Yes.”

Bill explained that while he was properly in fear of losing his feet or legs, he was far more afraid of letting down the nine members of the Strike Team, who at the time had been standing for over 10 weeks.

The above incident is anothr example of poor treatment of workers and shows growing desperation by management. The local’s Facebook page reported: “the dealership literally ripped the ground from beneath the feet of the striking members and Business Representatives on the scene. At points the contractor operating the bobcat literally pushed picketers around with his equipment, dragged the ground from beneath their feet all while picketers were being assaulted with a garden hose. Best part…. East Dundee Police stood around and watched with their hands in their pockets!”

Local 701 has been representing Chicago area auto mechanics since 1931. It is one of the largest mechanics’ locals in the United States representing auto and truck mechanics, heavy equipment, excavating and paving, road building, forklifts, high-rise equipment, tank washers, fuelers, trailer body and marine industries.

Photo: Roberta Wood/PW


Keri Rautenkranz
Keri Rautenkranz

Keri Rautenkranz is a regular People’s World contributor and an auto mechanic in the Chicago area, one of the victorious workers of AMU Local 701.