Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 20

FIXED OPS JOURNAL

Tech portrait

CHICAGO

Tim Richards, a 21-year-old apprentice tech
at Elgin Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram, is the type
of young worker the industry says it wants to
continued from Page 19
nurture. He says being a service technician is
Dealers Association's 2016 Dealership Workthe career for him.
force Study reported that one-fourth of techs
"I've always worked on cars, and I'd build
leave their jobs each year.
and race cars," he says. "Automotive is my
The median job tenure for techs was 3.6
niche. Why not make a career at something
years, according to the NADA study. Only 1
I'm good at?"
percent of service techs were women.
During and after the strike, Richards says he
Separately, a survey last year by the automomaintained his confidence that he will betive consulting firm Carlisle & Co. asked more
come a master technician someday.
than 20,000 service technicians in the United
"I didn't feel worried," he says, "because
States and Canada whether they would recwith my training and ability, I would have
ommend their career to others. Their overall
been able to progress faster."
response: an emphatic no.
The new contract in Chicago aims to reThe greatest sources of job dissatisfaction
spond to the concerns of veteran technicians
identified by the survey respondents: their
as well as those of 18- to 34-year-old workers,
compensation (flat-rate pay plans were espewho NADA says represent two-thirds of newly
cially reviled) and a feeling that the dealership
hired techs.
and automaker they work for don't properly
But officials of Automobile Mechanics Local
value what they do.
701, the union that represents the striking ser"People are leaving in herds," says Dan Costvice techs, concede they didn't get everything
ley, a journeyman technician at Garber Fox
they wanted.
Lake Toyota who took part in the ChiSam Cicinelli, the local's directing
cago strike. "The younger guys are
business representative, says the
seeing the career is not what it's cut
contract will guarantee technicians
out to be.
as much as 36 paid weekly hours of
"I've got two friends who left in the
work, up from 34 - but the union
past year and went back to college,"
wanted 40.
he says. "Both are smart as whips, but
Cicinelli says most veteran technithey're done."
cians represented by the local work
John Thompson is chairman of the
as much as 50 hours a week. But they
automotive technology department Cicinelli: "Not
at Pittsburg State University in Kan- as good" for techs often earn less because of the flatrate system they work under, which
sas, which offers one of the nation's
pays experienced techs primarily by the repair
top academic programs for training dealerjob rather than the hour.
ship service employees. He calls the employContract provisions lengthening the guarment climate for service techs "a disaster waitanteed workweek and offering other incening to happen."
tives only partially relieve that disparity, Cici"We have an aging work force, and young
nelli says.
men and women aren't trained and ready yet,"
Technician Costley calls flat-rate pay "a preThompson says. "You're seeing it slowly unhistoric, barbaric way of paying. They should
fold, but it will quickly unfold when more and
be paying at an hourly base," he says.
more people retire."

Not all bad

Pay gap

The situation for techs is not utterly bleak.
The NADA workforce study reported that the
average dealership service technician earned
nearly $59,000 in 2015 - a solid middle-class
income. The most skilled and experienced
techs command six-figure pay.
According to the Carlisle study, the average
service tech is about 40 years old and has 19
years of shop experience. Despite their complaints, 70 percent of the technicians in the
survey said they expected to work at their current dealership for at least the next three years.

Richards, the youngest tech in his shop, says
Chicago-area dealers have exploited poorly
paid techs in the semiskilled category, which
he argues should be eliminated.
"Would you rather pay the semiskilled
worker $15 an hour or pay the journeyman
$35 an hour for that brake flush?" Richards
says.
He notes that the new contract reduces apprenticeships from 10 to five years. But service
departments need to pay more attention to
the quality of apprentice training, he says.

PAGE 20

OCTOBER 2017

The typical service technician at a
new-vehicle dealership
 Is a 40-year-old man
 Has 19 years of tech experience,
mostly at dealerships
 Earned nearly $59,000 in 2015
 Has been in his job for 3.6 years and
expects to stay at his dealership for at
least 3 more
 Has a scheduled workweek of more
than 42 hours
 Spends most of his work time on
diagnostics, vehicle maintenance and
light repairs
 Attended college and/or technical
training
 Would not recommend his career to
a friend
Source: Carlisle & Co., National Automobile Dealers
Association

Apprentices should be formally partnered
with journeymen, he suggests, "instead of being thrown into the industry as an apprentice
and learning to do everything yourself."
Otherwise, the union's Cicinelli says, the
contract makes gains for younger techs, "but
it's still not as good compared to other trades
and other jobs."
"Electricians make $18 to $20 an hour at the
entry level," he says. "A plumber has a little
bucket of wrenches to invest in, and we have a
toolbox the size of a condominium."
Harold Santamaria, an instructor in the
automotive technology program at Truman
College in Chicago, says many of his tech students who "graduated and got a job said it
wasn't as rewarding as they thought it could be."
Some talented students have worked as lube
techs for four years without the prospect of
advancement "because they did the job too
well," he says.

Dealers speak
The Chicago dealers whose techs went on
strike have complaints of their own. Greg
Webb, a partner at Packey Webb Ford in
Downers Grove, says the strike "cost the mechanics and us a lot of money, and neither of
us is getting it back."
"The dealerships that weren't on strike had
so much [service] business, they were turning
it away," Webb says. "If some of my customers
went to another Ford store and got taken care
of properly, there's a real possibility they may
not come back here."
Richard Fisher's seven dealerships in the
Autobarn group endured the strike. He says
see CHICAGO, Page 22



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017

Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017
Contents
Editor’s Letter
Service Counter
Legal Lane
Dealers vs. OEMs
Parts disposal
Chicago way
Certifi ed repairs
Richard Truett
After the deluge
Labor rates
Off lease, on the lot
Paragon model
Feedback
Net benefi ts
Sometimes on Sunday
Get ready
Shop Talk
Five Minutes With
Fixed in Time
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Intro
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Cover2
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Contents
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Editor’s Letter
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 5
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Service Counter
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 7
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Legal Lane
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 9
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 10
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Dealers vs. OEMs
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Parts disposal
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 13
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 14
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 15
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 16
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 17
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Chicago way
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 19
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 20
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 21
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 22
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 23
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Certifi ed repairs
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 25
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 26
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Richard Truett
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - After the deluge
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 29
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 30
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 31
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Labor rates
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 33
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Off lease, on the lot
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 35
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Paragon model
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Feedback
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Net benefi ts
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 39
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Sometimes on Sunday
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 41
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Get ready
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 43
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Shop Talk
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Five Minutes With
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Fixed in Time
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Cover3
Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - Cover4
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