Nearly 40 Machinists Union members went on strike Friday at a Wichita auto parts retailer and warehouse.
Thirty-seven drivers and warehouse workers for Garnett Auto Supply and Jobbers Automotive Warehouse voted 35-2 late Thursday to strike after rejecting the companies’ final contract offer by the same vote.
The union’s contract with Garnett and Jobbers expired July 31. The workers are represented by the Machinists Local Lodge 708.
Cornell Beard, president of Machinists District 70, which includes Local 708, said on Friday reasons for the contract rejection are “all take-aways” — cutting things such as benefits or wages that union members have in their current contract.
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“The company is not interested in the simplest things, not even cost of living (adjustments),” Beard said. “The majority of members there . . . don’t even make 10 bucks (an hour).
“We’re really not wanting a whole lot,” he added.
Bob Evans, president of Garnett and Jobbers, said Friday that his companies weren’t affected by the strike Friday and that it was “business as usual.”
“We’ve got everything covered,” Evans said. “We’re still operating.”
He added that his companies “are still trying” to come to a resolution with the union.
“I think we will get there,” Evans said.
Beard said he’s hopeful for a quick resolution, too.
“I would like to get our members back to work,” he said.
How soon that could happen wasn’t clear on Friday. But the two sides are expected to return to the negotiating table “sometime early next week,” Beard said.
“We would go back to the table today if we had our way.”