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Machinsts, Teamsters Reject Car Dealers' Latest Offer

By Matt Sepic, KWMU

St. Louis – Striking workers at St. Louis-area auto dealerships rejected new contract offers by wide margins Thursday.

The International Association of Machinists and Teamsters Unions represent about 1,800 service department employees on the Missouri side of the river.

They went on strike August 1.

Vacation and sick time are the main issues for the Teamsters. Machinists are concerned about plans to shift work to lower-paid assistants.

Dealers' spokesman Pat Sanders says the rejections surprised him.

"We had worked hard over the last several weeks to address the Machinists' concerns on the limited use of the helper classification, and we had also addressed the Teamsters' concern on the sick leave and vacation accrual question," Sanders said.

But the IAM's Tony Rippeto says the plan his members rejected was worse than earlier versions.

"We already have a helper class," Rippeto said. "It's just the expanding of the duties that the helpers do, which would encroach on duties normally done by the highly-skilled journeyman technicians."

Nearly 97 percent of IAM members rejected the offer. About 83 percent of Teamsters also cast 'no' votes.