Berkeley Honda Is Back in Business

By Suzanne La Barre
Tuesday May 23, 2006

Councilmember Linda Maio dropped her ’94 Honda EX station wagon off at Berkeley Honda for a routine checkup Friday, signaling the end of the council’s longstanding boycott against the dealership. 

The City Council lifted the boycott Tuesday, following the close of a bitter 10-month strike in late April when service workers reached a contract agreement with dealership owners. Councilmembers are now urging citizens to return to Berkeley Honda. 

“We’re all happy the strike is resolved, and we’re encouraging people to bring their cars into the dealership for service,” said Maio. 

Employees from Machinists Lodge 1546 and Teamsters Local 78 walked off the job last June when new dealership owners refused to rehire all the veteran workers and renew union contracts. The unions quickly gathered support from community members who helped stage biweekly rallies in front of the dealership at 2600 Shattuck Ave. The Berkeley City Council sanctioned a boycott of Berkeley Honda in July. 

Patronage of car servicing plummeted by about 60 percent, Berkeley Honda General Manager Steve Haworth told the Planet last month. On Friday, Haworth reported that business has tripled since the end of the strike. 

The new contract offers workers a wage hike, a pension deal and extends employment to workers not hired back last June. 

So far, dealership management has offered to rehire six workers; just two have accepted. (The others are either on disability or found other jobs.) The rest of the employees will be reinstated in phases as work demands dictate. 

Said Haworth, “The quicker the business comes back, the quicker the employees come back.”