New England Automotive Report July 2022

Page 28

[COVER] STORY

AASP/MA TAKES ACTION: HUNDREDS RALLY FOR LABOR REIMBURSEMENT RATE REFORM AASP/MA set out to send a loud and clear message – and that is exactly what they did on May 18. More than 300 frustrated and determined Massachusetts collision repairers responded to the call to join the “Alliance” outside the Capitol building on Beacon Hill to rally in support of House Bill 1111/Senate Bill 709, legislation that would bring a long overdue increase to an insufficient insurer-controlled $40 labor rate – the lowest in the nation. Industry professionals came together to educate legislators, consumers and anyone listening that $40 per hour is simply not sufficient to cover technician and office worker salaries, equipment, rent, training, healthcare and all of a collision repair facility’s overhead costs. There’s also the factor of today’s vehicles requiring nothing but safe and proper repairs, and if they fail to do so, shops pay the high cost of accepting the liability. Their efforts bore fruit. As this magazine went to press in early June, AASP/MA learned that the Joint Committee on Financial Services released HB 1111/SB 709 with an "ought to pass" recommendation. The bills are now awaiting the next steps in the process. On the day of the rally, colorful, eye-catching signs boasted powerful messages reflecting the goal of their demonstration: “Save lives, save jobs, save an industry!” “Save my future in collision repair!” “Stop insurance greed! Save shops, jobs and protect consumers!” “Raise the rate now!” chanted the sea of collision repairers,

28 July 2022

New England Automotive Report

vocational school students, vendors and other supporters, as they marched in a circle cheering, roaring, blaring air horns and waving signs while a parade of lettered shop vehicles and flatbed trucks carrying damaged vehicles honked their horns each time they drove past the State House, demonstrating that they will not sit back and watch their industry die due to insufficient rates. AASP/MA Executive Director Evangelos “Lucky” Papageorg commended everyone for taking the time off in support of the cause. “Thank you for your commitment and for making this the event it really needed to be so we can help educate our legislators regarding HB 1111 and Senate Bill 709,” he declared from the steps in front of the Capitol building to the hundreds gathered, including several TV news crews and other media. To kick things off, Papageorg invited Assabet Valley Vocational Technical School students to lead off what he called a “Tea Party Reenactment,” instructing them to safely toss damaged vehicle panels emblazoned with the words “$40 is not enough” from the steps of the Capitol building. The group cheered in support as Papageorg pointed out that one of the more crucial reasons for supporting these bills is to keep the industry alive for the young people who want to get into it “because they love it. They think it’s cool. The problem is that those reasons won’t pay the bills. We need to be able to pay the bills. We need to have something in place for their future. We need to grow this industry, and we need to bring technicians back into this trade. We can’t afford to lose them to other industries.”