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Teamsters, Machinists At Columbia Ford Strike For Affordable Health Care

Armen Hareyan's picture

Members of the Teamsters and Machinists Unions walked off the job in protest of Columbia Ford's refusal to help allay the rising costs of health care, passing on costs to their employees while not offering enough of a wage increase to offset the burden.

The 31 union members consist of workers from parts and lube departments and mechanics at the car dealership. The unions, who have been in negotiations with the company since April 25, have been met with nothing but resistance by Columbia Ford to even the idea of considering a different approach to the health care plan.

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"We are not asking for the world here," said Brian King, Teamsters Local 58 business agent. Local 58 represents the 10 striking workers who work in parts and lube departments. "Our proposals have been reasonable but the company's offer amounts to less take-home pay for the workers who will be forced to nearly triple their monthly payments for health care."

Left with little recourse, the Teamsters Union voted for strike authorization after rejecting the company's final offer on May 30. The current contract expired on May 31. With increases in the health care already scheduled to take effect on July 1, the workers knew that if they didn't take a stand now the company would never listen.

"I have a family to think about," said Chuck Hurst, shop steward for the Teamster unit. "I am out on the line to ensure that their future is protected. It's a domino effect. If I have to take more money out of my paycheck for health care, that money isn't going to be there for other things like groceries, gasoline or clothes. We have been loyal employees and its time for this company to step up and recognize our dedication."