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BEST AUTO TECHNICIANS ARE PENALIZED BY RULES GOVERNING COMPENSATION

Your recent article detailing Ford Motor Co.'s efforts to recruit 150 dealer technicians in the Buffalo-Rochester area contained inaccuracies that would artificially inflate the economic expectations of anyone contemplating entry into this field.

The article's economic message that "top technicians command annual salaries in the $40,000 range" is nothing less than pure hogwash on several counts.

Anyone presently working in this capacity will verify that there is simply no such thing as a "salary" in this line of work.

A fixed weekly remuneration in exchange for job skills is a concept that is vehemently opposed by auto dealers and vehicle manufacturers throughout all of North America.

In reality, since World War II, dealer technicians have been steadfastly required to work on a 100 percent incentive-based piecework type of system known as "flat rate."

Under this system, all jobs have a factory imposed time limit that, when multiplied by the technicians' production wage rate, equals a total payment for the complete job. Beat the clock and you make more. Lose to the clock and you make less.

In bottom-line terminology, technicians who receive a large supply of frequently performed, uncomplicated, simple jobs such as brakes and tune-ups are lucratively rewarded. Technicians who suffer a rash of seldom performed, highly complex major repairs and/or extensive diagnostic troubleshooting are financially penalized.

This article subtly implies that there is a direct link between top skills and premium earning in this trade. Nothing could be further from the truth.

More often than not, the brightest, most knowledgeable technician on the staff will wind up being the lowest grossing "incentive" wage earner. Due to this technician's superior skill level, he will no doubt bear the brunt of the dealership's most technically challenging workload and as a result will relinquish opportunities at much better paying simple "gravy" jobs.

The article states that technicians "command." This is preposterous. Dealer technicians are locked in a position where they cannot command anything.

The factories directly control the where, when, how and how much of technician compensation issues by totally dictating dealership shop labor rates and the important flat rate labor time allowances.

DONALD MARLINSKI
Vice President, Local 55
United Auto Workers of America
Buffalo

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