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Auto Body Commission Seeks Industry Input on Labor Rates

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April 12, 2022—During the final meeting conducted by the Massachusetts Special Commission on Auto Body Labor Rates, representatives from the auto body and insurance industries were asked for their recommendations on breaking the deadlock that surrounds the ongoing issue of low labor rates. 

According to a story in the Daily Hampshire Gazette, the front-of-mind issue for members was assessing if the low labor rates in the industry are dissuading younger techs from entering the trade. 

“The site visit emphasizes how important it is that we do something for this trade that seems to be dying,” Rep. Bruce Ayers, D-Quincy, says in the story. “Compared to 15 to 20 years ago, these kids today are not focused on this trade because they realize that the amount of money they need to spend on tools, and the time they have to put in, once they graduate, they can just go into another field and make much more money.”

This was the last scheduled meeting by the Special Commission. Next, the Commission will begin deliberations and issue a report on bill H.1111 before its deadline on June 30. The proposed bill hopes to adjust labor rates in accordance with the rate of inflation. The increase would take place over the course of two years. 

The auto body has participated in negotiations so far, whereas the insurance companies have not.

“Our No. 1 (alternative) solution is that just pay us equal to, not more than, what consumers and insurers already pay to mechanical shop for the same process, which is north of $100 (an hour),” Evangelos “Lucky” Papageorg, executive director of Alliance of Automotive Service Providers, says in the story.

The auto body industry offered the following as alternative solutions: the corrective period should be changed from two years to three, or the increase occurs immediately with an inflation-adjusted total of $33 an hour. 

Alternative solution suggestions were requested by the chairman in an effort to offer the auto body industry and insurance companies the opportunity to find a solution conjunctively before the Legislature has to intervene. 

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