Fixed Ops Journal - October 2017 - 22

FIXED OPS JOURNAL

New Chicago tech contract addresses pay and seniority
STEPHANIE HERNANDEZ McGAVIN

D

foj@autonews.com

emands for changes in pay and seniority practices were at the heart
of the summer strike by
union-represented service technicians at Chicago-area dealerships. The contract settlement addresses both issues.
Techs in Chicago, like many others across
the country, work under a hybrid pay plan
that is based heavily on compensation at a flat
rate by the job but also includes an hourly
rate. They earn more by achieving productivity incentives.
A flat-rate system, sometimes called book
time, is an industry standard set by automakers that defines the amount of time required
for a repair job.
Harold Santamaria, a former service tech
who teaches automotive technology at Truman College in Chicago, offers an example:
For pay purposes, the "book" might say that
fixing a water pump takes three hours, even if

the actual repair takes more or less time.
The old Chicago contract guaranteed techs
34 hours of pay each week; the new four-year
agreement guarantees 35 hours in the first
three years and 36 in the final year.
To receive that guaranteed pay, a tech generally must work at least 40 hours a week, Santamaria says. He or she also must book a
"magic number"of hours each week; that figure varies by dealership based on cost and
profitability benchmarks, Santamaria adds.
Techs often beat book time and start a new repair job while they still are being paid for the
previous one.
A "really good, productive" tech might generate 50 or 60 hours' worth of service revenue
during a 40-hour workweek, notes Rob Gehring, president of Fixed Performance Inc., a
fixed ops consulting firm in Huron, Ohio.
Booking more hours can add to a tech's
hourly pay. In the first year of the new Chicago
contract, a tech who books 60 hours a week
can collect $1.70 more an hour after the guar-

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PAGE 22

OCTOBER 2017

anteed 35 hours.
Warranty work complicates the pay plan because automakers generally assign fewer
hours to those repairs.
The three-hour water pump repair might
book only two hours for a car or truck under
warranty, Santamaria says.
The automakers' rationale is that warranty
vehicles are newer, thus repairs are less complicated and time-consuming.
The new contract also will make it easier for
younger service techs in Chicago to climb the
career ladder, advocates say. The rungs of that
ladder proceed from entry-level lube technician to semiskilled tech to apprentice to journeyman.
A veteran employee then can display the skills
to become a master technician for the brands of
vehicles the dealership sells.
The Chicago contract shortens apprenticeships from 10 to five years and enables semiskilled technicians to seek apprenticeships
after 24 months. 

CHICAGO
continued from Page 20

the cost of the new contract will make it even harder for his company to
stay competitive.
"The [pay] rates of all of our mechanics have gone up sharply," Fisher
says. "Inevitably, the things we care about - giving great service to our
customers and attracting young people to the business - will be stymied if our costs continue to climb."
Fisher and some other dealers worked to dissociate themselves from the
dealership bargaining committee and cut their own deals with their striking techs. "We felt they were our guys first and union guys second, and
we wanted to get them back to work," he says. "I felt bitter in the overall
way [the strike] was managed by both sides. I feel, ultimately, the strike
was unnecessary."
Even after the strike, industry observers say dealerships in Chicago
and elsewhere aren't properly preparing their service departments and
training their shop employees for innovations such as emerging electric
and autonomous vehicles.
Steve Tomory, who teaches automotive technology at Rio Hondo College in Whittier, Calif., predicts service technician training will need to
become based more heavily on STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) topics. A tech's job, he says, "may become more of a salary-based position."
In Chicago and everywhere else, says Thompson of Pittsburg State, the
primary responsibility for redefining the role of service technicians to accommodate a changing industry rests with dealers and automakers.
"The manufacturers will have to partner up with the dealers and say,
'How do we grow this work force?'" Thompson says.
Rob Gehring, a fixed operations consultant in Huron, Ohio, agrees.
"I have said technician is a good career many times," Gehring says. "But
the attitude needs to change at the dealership and manufacturer level."
He adds: "I wouldn't be a technician." 


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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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