Militant Journalism

Tensions escalate as workers continue strike at Mercedes Benz of San Diego

UPDATE: On July 15, 20 workers were fired in retaliation for striking. The union plans to fight back against this illegal strikebreaking.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 1484 have been on strike against Mercedes Benz of San Diego for 25 days, pressing for fair pay and dignified working conditions. Joined by Teamsters Local 542 and the Party for Socialism and Liberation, the workers are not standing down in the face of threats and intimidation from Penske Automotive Group, who owns the dealership. 

July 13 was the union’s most recent negotiation with corporate, who are taking every opportunity to demoralize the striking workers. Using tactics such as hiring armed security forces to intimidate the strikers, as well as handing out disciplinary notices on the picket line, management hopes to strip them of morale.

Scabs get violent ahead of negotiations

In the early morning of July 13, a scab drove through the picket line and ran over one of the Teamsters. Mercedes Benz of San Diego used this incident as an excuse to inch armed security closer to the picket line. Striking workers were not intimidated, despite the subsequent rise in tensions and police presence following the injury.

As 10 a.m. approached, a few workers left the picket line to attend negotiations. At the table, Mercedes Benz San Diego offered no concessions and scolded the workers for striking. 

Liberation News spoke with Pedro Gomez, an automotive technician who has worked at Mercedes Benz of San Diego for 20 years: “I have a TikTok account. They actually printed out some of the comments I made on the TikTok…They were saying, ‘You know, social media is against our policy.’ Guess what? We’re on strike, I couldn’t care less about your policy,” said Gomez.

Teamsters Local 542 showed out in force on July 13. They mobilized especially to support the workers during negotiations. Teamster Chris Martinez told Liberation News, “When one fights, we all fight! Showing solidarity, showing up, showing support – one unit moving together.”

Strikebreaking attempts fail to curb worker solidarity

Hot dogs and snacks for folks walking the picket line. Liberation photo

Mercedes Benz of San Diego is using a variety of tactics to undermine the strike, including offering money to workers who cross the picket line. Aside from the handful of scabs who refused to walk out with their brothers, no one has crossed back over and neither the workers or management are budging.

Bryan Ferral informed Liberation News, “There hasn’t been any progress that I have seen so far…They pretty much told us, ‘We’ll reach out to you when we’re ready to resolve this, or if we’re ready to resolve this.’”

Ferral, who started working at Mercedes Benz of San Diego just three months ago, is proud to walk the picket line with his new union brothers. He came on board just two weeks before the old contract expired and could see how the company and general manager Michael Ritchey were mistreating the workers. Ferral expressed, “To see a change in management and a complete overhaul would be great.”

The initial proposal offered by Mercedes Benz of San Diego included a measly 50 cent pay increase. Though raises are not their primary demand, workers considered this an insult given current inflation rates and the level of skill and training required of auto technicians and mechanics. Despite the stalemate at the negotiating table, workers are motivated to strike until they get what they deserve: dignity, respect and a living wage.

You can support these striking workers by joining them on the picket line at 4750 Kearny Mesa Road during normal business hours.

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