BOSTON (WWLP) – A rally was held at the State House to advocate for an increase in labor rate reimbursement for collision repairs.
About 300 auto body workers and owners took to the steps of the State House Wednesday to fight for what they feel is long overdue. Alongside the workers were vocational tech students, family members and supporters who feel this fight against insurance companies is crucial in keeping shops open.
The current labor reimbursement rate is $40 an hour and Massachusetts currently ranks last in the country. The rates have not changed in 34 years.
Executive Director Evangelos “Lucky” Papageorg of the MA Alliance of Automotive Service Providers told 22News, “$40 is not what the technician is getting, it’s what the business is getting to have to cover all of their expenses. Insurance, you know, liability insurance, the equipment, the training, all of that.”
According to the association, labor rates have only increased $10 since 1988 while the Consumer Price Index increased 137.7 percent and insurance premiums 254 percent.
Springfield’s own Rick’s Auto Body has been in business for 50 years and 30 of their employees traveled to Boston to join the rally.
“They work so hard for what they’re getting paid, and to make a living wage. They want to be compensated and we want to compensate them, that’s what we want to do. We feel so strongly about that,” said Owner Mari Tarpinian.
Auto body owners believe the increase would help keep staff, decrease backlogs in shops and help bring new workers into the industry.
There’s currently a bill in the House and Senate to raise the reimbursement rates. This year’s legislative session ends on July 31st.