THE ANGRY MECHANICS SITE!
SITES PURPOSE: This is a web site for all the technicians out there who everyday get the shaft. Whether it's from the shop you might work at, the manufacturer of a vehicle, or some irate customer who wants to know why it costs so much to fix their vehicle. This site, I hope, is a place were other disgruntled technicians can get together and hopefully bond. Yes bond! I have been doing this for 24 years and I have heard all the bull shit about how this profession is going to change and we are going to be treated and paid like the skilled craftsmen we are. I have been told by shop owners that we are one big happy family. Then that same shop owner lets the same workers with years of experience go because that shop owner just can't squeeze enough profit out of them anymore or they hope two less paid and less experienced bodies can fill one man shoes. What kind of family is that?
I hope by having this site, others in this field of work can find out it's not just them or their section of the country with problems, but all over. I hope, through communications such as this, we can come together as a group and change this profession.
PROBLEMS: Lets face it the problems come down to just a few, but they have kept us under for all these years.
The Flat Rate System: Do you know any other profession that has to work by "beat the clock". Oh yeah, they have estimating guides, but if the plumber comes out to your house and gives you an estimate and then runs into a problem doing the job he does not say "oh well, all this extra time I had into this job because I ran into this corroded pipe is on me". But we do! We run in to a problem we generally eat it.
This is a manufacturers' or shop owners' best dream of a pay plan. Boy, other companies would love to have the flat rate system as a pay plan. Wouldn't Detroit love to have this kind of pay plan for the auto workers? But the auto workers are not dopes like us to say "OK seems fair, I'll work it". No, they unionized and stick together.
We are the only group that I know of that will let some companies get away with paying only what you make flat rate. I know that you, like me, have worked or know someone who has worked in shops like this. Where, due to seasonal conditions, or for what ever reason, work is slow the technicians bring home 15-20 hour paychecks even though they've been at work 40 hours. To me this is not just wrong I feel it should be illegal. Yet, as a profession we let it happen. We should come under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
We let the manufacturers come up with times that only Superman or the Flash could make money on and we accept it. We let the manufacturer set the times. Like they are going to even try to make a honest attempt to come up with times that you can make forty hours on! Heck they don't care if you can't make a living on the times they make up. With their power and money do you think they are going to let any of the other manufactures of labor guide times be too far off the times that they make up.
Hell your their last resort to make sure they have a profitable year and if you fail they need governments to bail their sorry asses out. The manufacturer because of their own greed and stupidity turns out products that fail in large numbers. They have parts that they get recalled in large numbers on many of their product lines or parts that just fail because of their cheapness just to make more profits and are still under warranty. Then you have manufacturers that design or build vehicles that are not what the consumer wants to buy. Then it is “Oh no we are having a bad year!” What do the manufactures do to try to make back money from their mistakes? They go and shaft us! They have to respond to their shareholders and bean counters that are saying their profits are down by slashing the labor times on the same vehicles that you have been working on and that nothing has changed. We are the final safety built in to the system for the auto manufacturer to recoup some of their profits for the year. Screw the guys on the bottom there is nothing they can do. This is their corporate way of thinking about you.
Than you have technicians out there who can out engineer any of the so called engineers with degrees that the manufactures have and come up with ideas or tools that they make themselves to get around a job. They tell a friend and the word spreads. We can make money on doing this job. But soon back at the manufacturers corporate headquarters some pencil pushing geek notices the trend on his spreadsheet. He sets off the warning bells and what happens? They drop the times that they pay for the job. They have you in a no win situation. Because up to now they had a surplus of bodies to fill your position if you quit. But times they are changing!
INDIVIDUALISM: In most places where there are multiple technicians, where they all work separately and independently from each other, we are forced to act like we are individual contractors to the shop. We have to fight individually for our pay & raises. We fight among ourselves over who is getting more work or better kind of work. This is the norm except for rare occasions in more metropolitan areas where there are union shops. But in the majority of this profession it is the individual who has to hammer out the best deal that he can get out of the shop and this is usually always at the threat of leaving. This usually leads to conditions where you can have two technicians in the same shop with the same skills and a wide disparity in pay rates because we are all separate individuals dealing alone. Even animals know there is better protection in groups than alone.
Plus in many cases in a bigger shop you will have an individual who feels that being a snitch or a spy for the shop manager or owner will insure their security in that shop! You know the technician, the one if the boss stops to quick and ends up with their nose stuck up the bosses ass. Through better jobs and magical hours that appear in their paychecks compared to other workers doing the same jobs. Heck they can sit around and talk half the week and turn such magical times. By back stabbing their co-workers to management they can secure advancement within the company. Which usually works as most managers and owners used this same approach to get where they are today. So by having these rats within the shop the owner can feel insured that the rest of the workers can't try getting together with out the rat letting them know about it and any other problems the technicians might be having even personal stuff. Remember that they are always listening for any kind of information to tell the boss, from first or second hand sources. The good thing is it does not take you long at a new shop to figure out who the rat is.
The fighting and backstabbing for work or the better paying jobs in the shop keeps a wedge so deep among the technicians that I have witnessed fist fights break out. Then I have seen a technician deliberately sabotage another techs work because he felt the other technician was getting favoritism from the boss. This is what a shop owner wants. He goes out of his way to foster all the above conditions. This keeps you and your fellow techs from forming a group. A group who might hit the shop owner up for better pay or benefits. For trying to get better hours or working conditions. This keeps you from going out and getting unionized if the owner is still to stupid to work with the group. Being individuals has left us the weakest link in the transportation industry. We are the whipping boy from the manufacturer all the way down.
If a manufacturer came out tomorrow and said we are coming out with a new style fastener to replace all the Phillips and Torx drives on all my vehicles, it won't be the manufacturer or the shop who will go out and buy the tools, instead they will say if you want to work you buy it. How many other professions have to constantly keep buying tools for their trades? Yes in a lot of trades there is some change. But no where near the changes in our field of work. You are left constantly using part of your pay for the year to buy tools so you can keep working on these vehicles and to make your life easier. It is a vicious cycle, new tools needed to work on the newer model vehicles. Lets face it in this trade you are always buying tools. Tools that are only for our trade. These tool manufactures who make these tools know it. So the tools do not come cheap that we need to buy so we can continue to keep working.
Due to our weakness we get stuck paying for books and other educational material to try to keep up with the ever changing technology of this industry. We get stuck paying for schooling, or testing as we try to keep up with the constant changes in this industry. Yes, if you work for a new car vehicle franchise you might get schooling or A.S.E. paid for but not always and if you work for a small shop probably never. We being such diverse individuals have let this industry keep us down for far to long.