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Sharrett technicians vote to strike

July 31, 1998

By DAVE McMILLION

Staff Writer

Service technicians at Hagerstown's Sharrett car dealership have voted to strike, according to an official of the Teamsters union that represents the workers.

Also, the Teamsters, which represents the workers, have filed two charges against Sharrett with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging the dealership changed pay rates and made other changes without negotiating with the Teamsters, according to the NLRB.

The workers voted in 1996 to have the Teamsters represent them. Workers are negotiating with Sharrett for a first contract, which would address wages, working conditions and safety issues.

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Union and company representatives have met 25 times since February in an attempt to reach an agreement, but no progress has been made, said Tom Krause, organizer for the Teamsters Local Union 992.

"They've pushed these employees as far as they're going to push them," Krause said Thursday.

The Teamsters represent 19 service technicians at Sharrett.

Sharrett General Manager Jeff Miles declined to comment on the strike vote and the charges filed with the NLRB.

Sharrett, a dealer for Subaru, Buick, GMC, Oldsmobile, Mazda and Volkswagen, does business at 1333 Dual Highway and the Interstate 70 Automall.

Although workers have voted to strike, Krause did not say when the service technicians might walk out. The union plans to invite Sharrett back to the bargaining table before any walkout, Krause said.

On Tuesday, the Teamsters filed a charge with the NLRB alleging Sharrett changed the pay of some employees because of their support of the union, said Louis Damico, director of the NLRB in Baltimore.

The NLRB has started investigating the charge, Damico said.

An earlier charge filed with the NLRB by the Teamsters alleges Sharrett changed working conditions without negotiating with the Teamsters, said Damico. Specifically, the charge alleges Sharrett implemented a rotating work schedule that lowered some employees' pay and caused one worker to be laid off, said Damico.

A hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 21 before an administrative law judge, who will hear arguments on parts of the charge, said Damico.

If it is determined that Sharrett committed unfair labor practices, the company could be required to compensate employees for any losses, said Krause.

The hearing will be held at the post office in Hagerstown, Krause said.

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