On the Picket Line

Chicago-area mechanics fight to defend health care and union

By Naomi Craine
November 27, 2023

ALSIP, Ill. — Sixty mechanics, parts-counter workers and other members of International Association of Machinists Mechanics’ Union Local 701 went out on strike at M&K Truck Centers in this south Chicago suburb Nov. 1.

They are pushing back against the company’s attempt to replace the union medical and retirement plans with substantially worse benefits, including tripling the out-of-pocket costs for health care. The union is also fighting to end a divisive two-tier wage structure. 

“It’s do or die for the union. If we accept their proposal, it would be easy for the company to get rid of it, like they did at their shop in Joliet,” said striker Bill, who did not give his last name for fear of company retaliation. Only two M&K facilities are still unionized, here and in nearby Summit, out of its 27 truck-maintenance locations. 

The company is trying to keep running using managers and replacement workers. IAM members are picketing weekdays 6 a.m. to midnight, and shorter hours on Saturdays. They give people who come to the center a flyer explaining the issues in the strike and asking them not to patronize M&K until it’s settled. And they welcome others to join their picket line at 5300 W. Plattner Drive, Alsip.