VALLEJO (KCBS) – Ride mechanics locked out at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Friday said they would leaflet the Vallejo theme park all weekend as their union tries to negotiate its first labor contract.
With preparations for the Memorial Day Weekend kickoff to the busy summer season as a backdrop, talks with the Machinist Union District Lodge 190 had been amicable until Six Flags insisted on pay rates that union spokesman Jim Beno said are much lower than those at other parks.
“Mechanics are highly skilled, and yet they hire them in at around $17 an hour,” Beno said. “They’re nowhere near the standards for trained mechanics and technicians in the greater Bay Area.”
Park spokeswoman Nancy Chan said Six Flags gave its best and final offer two weeks ago, hoping the union would approve a three percent wage increase it in time for Memorial Day.
“They were adding a three percent increase for next year and a three percent increase for the following year over the base rates. The problem we had was ‘based on the base rates.’ The base rates were so low,” Beno said.
So dozens of mechanics certified to maintain the roller coasters and other attractions found themselves locked out. Their replacements, Chan said, are certified mechanics from Magic Mountain, the other Six Flags theme park.
The mechanics from Southern California will to keep things running smoothly and safely while the Vallejo park is open on the weekends, Chan said, with non-union subcontractors hired for the entire summer season if the labor dispute is not resolved quickly.
The union hopes to resume talks on Monday.
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