Mercedes-Benz of San Diego, the target of a strike by union technicians for the past month, last week fired 20 striking employees.
Management at the luxury dealership owned by Penske Automotive Group Inc. has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board stating that the former employees “unlawfully condoned and encouraged blatant picket line misconduct.”
“Safety and security of our employees and customers is our top priority. Out of concern for the future safety of our staff and customers and after an investigation, we have informed those union members who engaged in serious misconduct that we have terminated their employment,” Mercedes-Benz of San Diego said in a statement to Automotive News.
Pedro Gomez, a shop steward at International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local Lodge 1484 and technician at the dealership, said the union will also file a complaint with the labor board. Gomez said the dealership wrongfully terminated the strikers, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
“If we’re picketing and customers have to wait for us to cross the driveway, yes, that would hinder them from going straight through,” Gomez told the Tribune. “But is it unlawfully harassing them? I disagree.”
Neither Gomez nor other union officials returned messages from Automotive News seeking comment on Monday.
The strike began June 17, and the last meeting between the union and dealership occurred on July 13. The negotiations have not yielded a new contract agreement.
The dealership said in its statement that it offered members an average raise of $10,000 on an average salary of $120,000 per year. Gomez said the numbers were misleading and that the strike is about more than money.
“They’re basically telling us, ‘We’ll starve you out.’ But the problem wasn’t even about money. It’s about the tone, the respect,” Gomez told Automotive News last month. “We’re done with the bullying.”
It remains unclear when the two sides plan to resume negotiations.